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I have now been undertaking divorce work as a lawyer for twenty-eight years. During that time I have come across some awful situations including domestic violence against both women and men as well as all sorts of horrors that have happened to children within violent or abusive households. These types of cases regularly hit news headlines. However, they are not the only type of bad behaviour that Divorce Lawyers have to deal with.
When it comes to Matrimonial Finances, people can be very under-hand. The cases I outline below are quite memorable, and therefore I have changed some of the details.
In one case, a client was cleaning out a cupboard when the bottom fell out. Amongst the broken wood were a series of documents that caused my client acute shock. It became obvious that their spouse had been living a double life. They owned another house with another person; they had hidden assets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds and worse they had another child with the other person.
My client had felt that the marriage had not been working for some time, they felt lonely and isolated. Hardly surprising when their spouse had a whole extra family to spend time with. Not surprisingly my client sought a divorce and needed to know where they stood ﬁnancially.
I issued divorce proceedings based upon adultery, issued an immediate application to sort out a Financial Settlement and on the back of that issued an application to freeze the hidden ﬁnancial assets before they were moved offshore. Prior to the ﬁrst hearing taking place I had all of the documents served on the spouse by a private eye, in this country they are actually known as Process Servers. I invited the spouse to appoint a solicitor as a matter of urgency. At the ﬁrst hearing, the judge made an order freezing the hidden assets. That way the money could not be removed from the bank until such time as we could negotiate a proper settlement.
The other solicitor took a reasonable approach, it was clear that the marriage was at an end, ﬁnances had to be sorted out, and my client needed their fair share in order to move on with their life. Then there was the case where a couple had married over fifteen years beforehand and had children together. Sam had previously been married and had older children from that marriage. Imagine our client’s surprise when she concluded that the marriage was at an end and asked us to carry out Land Registry searches to determine how she owned a series of properties with Sam. He had told her that properties had been put into their joint names once they were married. Penny had no reason to doubt Sam, after all, they were in love and had children together.
However, Sam thought it would be a great idea to transfer all of the property he owned into the names of his adult children just before he married Penny. What on earth did he think was going to happen to Penny and their children if he died while they were still minors? If he had died under such circumstances he would have left Penny and their children are ﬁghting a court case with his adult children. This would have cost them all tens of thousands of pounds. What a selfish thing to do to your family.
Our task was to uncover an audit trail going back over a decade and piece everything together. Sam didn’t see why Penny should receive any assets or money for her or their children upon divorce. Thankfully the judge saw this ﬁnancial deception for what it was and ordered the return of assets back to Sam and eventually Penny.
Then there was the case of Hareem whose husband bought, sold and rented out properties.The couple worked together in another business, and most of the proﬁts from that business were used to purchase the investment properties. Sanjay convinced Hareem that as she was busy looking after the ﬁrst business and their children it would be easier if he saw to the properties. A reasonable solution to a busy life.
Unfortunately, the marriage came to an end with both parties accusing the other of domestic violence. The ﬁrst thing I did was check the ownership of over thirty properties using the online Land Registry portal that we can access at our ofﬁce. Hareem was listed as a co-owner of only two of the properties. I also noted that Sanjay had transferred a number of the properties into the names of his mother and brother in the previous three months. An obvious attempt to deprive Hareem of assets.
As you can imagine the judge hearing their case was not at all happy about this situation and made an order which placed Hareem back in the ﬁnancial position she was entitled to.
These cases require a lot of skill as a solicitor.They need patience and the investigative skills of a top detective. I often have to pore over accounts produced for a business, which may hide a multitude of issues, I have to go back over applications for mortgages and loans, proof of funds, audit trails for money going from one business to another, completion statements for conveyancing matters etc. If you think that you have missed the boat ﬁnancially why not contact me for advice on 0191 284 6989 or email@example.com
Author: Jacqueline Emmerson