Concealing overseas assets during expat divorce a bad idea

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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Although divorce may be the last thing on the minds of most expat couples, it’s wise to check out spousal money and property held abroad.

Divorce is one of the most stressful procedures you’ll ever encounter, but it can be made far worse if you’re both expats and the assets to be divided are overseas. Not only will the court proceedings take far more time to conclude, but tracing and establishing ownerships of overseas property, cash, bank deposits and suchlike can be your worst nightmares come true.

A recent case in which claims were made that large sums and property were held abroad took seven years to conclude, mostly due to the nature and actual amounts of the overseas holdings. In another case, UK properties held by an offshore company were finally admitted in the divorce case, but the time it took to get judgements highlighted the difficulties and extra costs of expat divorce.

Even if you’re happy with your spouse at the time of emigrating overseas, it pays to ensure all paperwork dealing with property, savings and investments is kept safe and easily available. If your spouse suggests company ownership of investment property, checking with a family lawyer might be the best idea.

In the event of a subsequent divorce through the British courts, those with assets abroad are strongly advised to be transparent as regards their disclosure early on in the proceedings. If you’re not, you may find yourself far worse off financially or, as did one ex-partner in a recent case, doing prison time for contempt of court.
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