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Divorce Dirty Secrets: Unveiling the Hidden Assets of Australia’s High Net Worth Individuals

Divorce is a heavy word at the best of times – where two people’s vows become neglected and there is no way of reconciliation. For most, it’s just a matter of a few signatures before parting ways and moving on.

But the case is quite different when it comes to the most wealthy people in Australia. Among solicitors, it is often referred to as ‘High Net-Worth Divorce’ and often requires a highly-skilled solicitor to get the best options for each client.

When high net-worth couples decide to get a divorce, they often face the challenge of dividing their assets. In some cases, one or both parties may try to hide assets in order to keep them out of the divorce settlement. This can lead to a complicated and time-consuming process, as well as unfair outcomes for the other party.

Hiding assets in a high net-worth divorce is not uncommon. In fact, a lot of the wealthy – unsurprisingly – don’t want to get rid of any of their money. Often enough, they’ll cite that their partner didn’t help to earn any of the money and, therefore, shouldn’t be given access to it. But this is far from the truth – whilst wealthy partners may not be contributing solely to the finances of the ‘family’, they contribute in many other ways.

During a marriage, high net-worth individuals can, and probably will, hide assets from their partners, both during the relationship and the stages of divorce. Some common ways of hiding assets include:

  • Transferring assets to family members or friends
  • Creating offshore accounts,
  • Undervaluing assets,
  • Failing to disclose assets.

These tactics can be difficult to detect, especially if the other party is not aware of them. As a result, it is important for anyone going through a high net-worth divorce to be aware of the potential for hidden assets and to take steps to protect themselves.

Understanding High Net Worth Divorce

Defining High Net Worth Divorce

High net-worth divorce refers to the dissolution of a marriage between individuals with significant assets. An asset is any item of property owned by an individual with considerable value; this makes divorce cases increasingly more complex and as such, are often referred to as ‘Complex Property Matters’. These cases involve a range of financial issues such as the division of property, investments, businesses, and other assets.

Assets Involved in High Net-Worth Divorce

In high net-worth divorce cases, the assets involved can be vast and complex. Some of the assets that may be involved in these cases include:

  • Real estate properties
  • Investment portfolios
  • Business interests
  • Retirement accounts
  • Art collections
  • Luxury vehicles
  • Jewellery and other valuable personal property
  • Offshore accounts and trusts

This is just a brief overview of some of the assets that can be included in a divorce settlement, but where international assets are involved, a whole other layer of complexity is added to the proceedings. Mostly, this is due to accounting for all the assets that are held abroad.

Michelle Young is one such example of having a high net-worth divorce that included international assets. Her divorce settlement lasted for 7 years, although she was eventually awarded a handsome sum of money.

It is important to note that each divorce case that involves the most wealthy of individuals is unique, and the assets involved will vary depending on the couple’s financial situation. As such, it is crucial to work with an experienced family law solicitor who can help navigate the complexities of these cases and ensure that all assets are accounted for and properly valued.

Hiding Assets in High Net Worth Divorce

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, especially when it involves high net-worth individuals. Not only are they losing the person who they thought they’d be sharing the rest of their life with, they’re also going to be losing roughly 50% of their worth.

In some cases, one spouse may attempt to hide assets from the other to gain a financial advantage in the divorce settlement. This is a serious issue that can have significant consequences and is illegal.

Methods of Hiding Assets

There are many ways that a spouse may try to hide assets during a high net-worth divorce. We’ve shown some of the most common methods, but here are some other more unique methods that individuals use in order to hide their assets:

  • Transferring assets to a third party
  • Underreporting income or assets
  • Overstating debts or expenses
  • Creating fake debts or expenses
  • Delaying the sale of assets until after the divorce is finalized
  • Using offshore accounts or trusts to hide assets

These methods can be difficult to detect, especially if the spouse is experienced in financial matters. It is important to work with a knowledgeable divorce solicitor who can help uncover any hidden assets.

Consequences of Hiding Assets

During a divorce, it’s very important to be honest and open about all assets. Trying to hide assets can have serious consequences, such as legal and financial problems, and it can damage the trust and respect between the parties.

If a court finds out that one spouse has hidden assets, there can be significant penalties, fines, and even criminal charges. Additionally, trying to hide assets can lead to an unfair distribution of property during the divorce settlement. It’s crucial for both parties to be transparent and truthful about their assets during the divorce proceedings to ensure a fair and just outcome.

If a spouse is caught hiding assets during a divorce, the court may order the spouse to pay fines or even face criminal charges for fraud. Additionally, any assets that were hidden may be awarded to the other spouse as part of the divorce settlement. Not only this, but it can also result in possible legal consequences such as fines or even jail time.

If you think that your ex-partner is hiding assets from you, or you just want to be protected from anything untoward during divorce proceedings, have a confidential chat with one of our experienced solicitors.

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