Parties to a property settlement have an obligation to be transparent with their finances so as to not hide assets from the other party or the Court. Some parties try to be clever and hide assets, however usually a paper trail is left which alerts the other party and the Court of suspicious activity.
In a matter that was before the Family Court in Melbourne, the Wife became aware that the husband had sent over $250,000 to the United States for a debt suddenly called upon some 20 years after the “loan.” This raised suspicion about the Husband’s potential to hide assets to minimise the property pool.
The Wife then became aware that the Husband was selling his expensive vehicle and was about to receive a large sum of money from a business venture. The Wife sought Orders from the Court to prevent the Husband from disposing of the proceeds from the business and the vehicle. The Court granted these Orders and the matter was adjourned.
Unfortunately for the Wife, when the matter next returned to the Court, the Husband had sold the vehicle and left the country with the vehicle sale proceeds and the funds from the business venture. The Husband is understood to be overseas with over $300,000 of funds now “missing” from the property pool.
The Court later Ordered that a warrant be issued for the Husband’s arrest and he be sentenced to 18 months jail for not complying with previous Orders in relation to selling the vehicle and disposing of the business venture funds. The Husband was also ordered to pay over $300,000 to the Wife as a property settlement, plus legal costs.
Whilst the Order of the Court may appear appropriate in the circumstances, in reality the Wife may never see any of the money that was ordered to be paid to her, as the exact whereabouts of the Husband are unknown. He is likely hiding in a Country where the Orders made by the Family Court of Australia cannot be enforced.
There are however Orders that the Wife could have sought when the matter was originally adjourned that may have prevented the Husband from leaving the Country. This may have resulted in a very different outcome.
If you are concerned that your ex partner is hiding significant assets and/or may be planning to leave the country with significant assets, contact the Family Law Team at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers to help put in place protective measures.