If you’re getting a divorce or ending a civil partnership, you will need to ensure your rights and assets are protected. In some cases, you may have to act quickly to protect your finances, especially if the break-up is acrimonious.
Here is a quick guide on how to ensure your assets are protected when going through a divorce.
If the family home is owned in your spouse’s sole name, you can register your interest in the home to make sure it cannot be sold or re-mortgaged without your knowledge.
If the property is in both your names, as ‘joint tenants’ you may want to change the way its owned. This will prevent your spouse automatically inheriting your share of the property if you were to die before the divorce, or before the dissolution has been finalised.
If your spouse owns property other than the family home you may be able to register a ‘restriction’ at the land registry. This will prevent your spouse from selling the property or securing debt against it.
You may need to speak to your mortgage lender, depending on whose name is on the mortgage to explain what has happened and to discuss how you will manage the mortgage repayments.
It is important to note that if you have a joint mortgage, you are both equally liable for the whole loan.
If you are unable to keep up the mortgage payment it is vital that you seek advice, as this could damage your credit rating, which could make it harder for you to borrow in the future.
Joint Account / Loans
If your break up is acrimonious and you have joint accounts and or loans with your spouse, you should contact your bank or loan provider to explain what has happened.
Consideration may need to be given to whether you need to change the way the account is set up so that both of you have to agree to any money being withdrawn, or to freeze the account.
If you have a credit card account and your spouse has a second card for the same account, you will be responsible for paying for their spending as well as yours. You should therefore consider either asking your spouse to give you the card back or alternatively contact the card company to block the card or remove your spouse from your account.
There is a requirement on parties to provide full financial disclosure prior to any divorce settlement. If you own your own business, make sure you do not transfer assets out of the business. This can be seen as a strategic move to limit or avoid your spouse’s financial claims.
Any attempt to dissipate your assets will be frowned upon by the court and you could be held accountable of litigation misconduct.
In divorce, the pension can be the biggest asset after the family home. It is vital therefore that you find out what type of pension(s) you have and the rules associated with each pension scheme. Consider also obtaining the CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) for each of your pensions at an early stage as pension providers can take many weeks to provide this information.
What to do if your spouse tries to hide assets
The courts have a wide variety of powers available to them to ensure that there is full and frank financial disclosure. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets by either, selling, transferring or getting rid of them, you may be able to apply to the court to stop them.
If you would like to find out more about how to protect your assets during a divorce, please contact Muna Saleem, Partner and Head of the Family Team for a free initial consultation on [email protected]