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Divorce - My spouse is hiding or undervaluing their business or other assets

Vardags is the only family law firm with a dedicated in-house Financial Forensics department. Our team specialises in the identification, tracing, valuation and forensic review of assets – including businesses, property and investments.

If you are a High-Net-Worth individual going through, or considering, a divorce, it is imperative to have an accurate valuation of all your spouses assets. Whether these are locked up in complex, international trusts, hidden within investment portfolios, concealed through complicated share structures, these will need to be identified and considered for a fair settlement.

The benefit of the Vardags model is that the only people doing the valuation and forensic accountancy work on your case will be forensic accountants with experience in matrimonial law. They will be able to provide their insight at the earliest stage of, and throughout, the case, giving our clients a strategic advantage. They also work regularly with the other departments at Vardags, assisting both with the uncovering of hidden assets, and their valuation.

The department was set up by Vardags CEO, Stephen Bence, himself a McKinsey analyst and is now staffed fully by chartered accountants. Katharine Danby was KPMG trained as a Forensic investigator, finding hidden assets and uncovering fraud. Ben Crowne trained at EY and has specialised for years in contentious valuations, dealing with cases where the parties disagree – often radically – about value. Their knowledge and expertise bridge the gap often found between lawyers and the accountants who do valuations on behalf of the court in a matrimonial proceeding, providing the best possible outcome for client in what can often be the most controversial and important aspect of a case.

Frequently Asked Questions

All parties in a divorce are under a duty to provide “full and frank” disclosure. This means that they have to tell you about all their assets and income. Unfortunately, some wealthy spouses think that they can hide their assets – placing them under the control of companies, or moving them offshore.Vardags are very experienced in these types of cases. Our in house forensic accountancy team can search for assets across the globe, and are experienced at understanding and unravelling complicated corporate structures.

If you feel you should have got more from your divorce, it may be possible to appeal your case. A successful appeal may well lead to a higher award or to increased maintenance.To appeal against a financial order, you will need to show that the judge was wrong in the way the final decision was reached. As experienced family lawyers, the legal team at Vardags will help you prepare your case for appeal. We will review the initial judgment and advise you whether it is possible to appeal. The dynamic approach our lawyers take meant that we are used to challenging judgments and working to change the law – we will help you put forward innovative arguments in support of your appeal.

When you begin divorce proceedings, it is natural to worry about how your spouse might react. From the outset of proceedings, they are under a duty to maintain the status quo – including giving you the same access to money to meet your day-to-day expenses.

Your spouse might try to stop you getting your fair share by giving assets away – transferring them to business associate or family members – or by putting them into trust. In doing this they will try to reduce the amount of money available to meet your claim. Vardags are used to such tricks and can help you protect yourself from them.If you have evidence that your spouse is going to dissipate their assets, either by spending them or moving them to other people or other countries, it is possible to obtain a freezing order. These orders freeze your spouse’s assets, allowing them access to no more than they need for their ordinary living expenses. This prevents them from making any major transactions and putting their assets beyond your reach.

In many countries, a couple can divorce with little or no financial support being given to the poorer party. Sometimes, you might not even know about the divorce until it has already been finalised. That does not prevent you from seeking the support of the English courts.

If your spouse has stopped supporting and you are struggling to meet your daily expenses, Vardags can help.It is possible to apply to the court for your spouse to provide you with interim maintenance, also known as maintenance pending suit. Here the court will look at your short term income needs and will order your spouse to make payments to meet them. If such an application is required, your spouse might also be ordered to pay your legal costs relating to it.

High value divorces can lead to expensive litigation, but you should not be squeezed out of getting your fair share because you do not have the money to pay your fees. Though family lawyers are not allowed to work on a “no win, no fee” basis, we can often find away to keep your case going.

When it comes to parties seeking a divorce, it is not uncommon for one party to be unaware of the true extent of their joint finances, that of their spouse or indeed their own. This is often the result of one spouse in the relationship controlling the finances in their entirety. However, while this may work when the couple are together, when the relationship ends, the party that is unaware of the marital finances may feel vulnerable and anxious, unsure as to whether they will receive a fair share of the couple's assets.

If your partner is breaking an existing order, there are numerous ways of enforcing it. The court can divert a portion of their salary directly to you (garnishee order), give you a charge over property or shares or even transfer bank accounts over to you. If your partner willfully and deliberately refuses to satisfy an order, this can amount to contempt – the court can fine and even jail them for this.


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