With a spate of celebrity divorces taking place, you may wonder about the intricate financial proceedings that follow. High-net-worth property settlements can get messy particularly if the divorce is one-sided, there are hidden assets or the couple doesn’t have a prenuptial agreement. Carolyn Devries, founder of New Way Lawyers, sheds light on this complex matter, highlighting crucial considerations. Here are five essential takeaways.
Understanding Financial Disclosure
When a couple part ways in Australia, there’s a legal obligation for both parties to exchange financial details, a process termed as ‘financial disclosure’. The main purpose is to ensure every liability and asset is transparently and accurately declared, laying the foundation for a fair property division.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
Sometimes, the financial disclosure might not seem quite right. Certain signs might indicate that your ex-partner is not being entirely upfront about their financial status. Be wary if you notice frequent cash withdrawals, unexplained transfers to unfamiliar bank accounts, lending or gifting significant amounts to acquaintances, or instances of income non-declaration.
Digital Footprints & Social Media
Individuals often unintentionally divulge financial details on social media. A post about a lavish holiday or a new luxury car, despite claims of financial hardship, can be revealing. While these posts aren’t definitive proof, they can hint at undisclosed assets.
Seek Legal Counsel Immediately
If it seems that assets may be being concealed, it’s vital to consult a family lawyer straight away. They will provide invaluable guidance on your next steps and protective measures. For example, in extreme cases, an urgent court application for an injunction might be necessary. This legal measure ensures assets aren’t hastily sold, transferred, or otherwise mismanaged.
Preparation is Key
To make your case robust and address concerns of hidden assets, it’s important to make sure your lawyer has access to financial records including:
- A comprehensive list of assets, whether owned individually, jointly, or in collaboration with a third party.
- Details about your partner’s family, friends, business associates – any potential recipient of hidden assets.
- Records of digital transactions, be it PayPal, ZIP, or POLi.
- Copies of financial documents – bank receipts, loan papers, title records, tax documents, etc.
When there are valid suspicions of non disclosure or hidden assets , a family lawyer might suggest a ‘hidden asset search’. Collaborating with forensic accountants or private investigators, lawyers utilise this approach to uncover undisclosed assets like stocks, securities, and bank accounts. Title and company searches can reveal asset transfers, and subpoenas can force the disclosure of concealed assets.
While it may be interesting to read about celebrity divorces and the associated financial drama, it’s essential to remember that property settlements are serious business. Ensuring a transparent financial disclosure is vital for a just and equitable division. And, should there be any doubts, seeking immediate legal guidance can make all the difference.
New Way Lawyers is Australia’s first non-profit law firm. 13 years ago, New Way Lawyers was established with a non-profit structure to offer Australians an alternative approach to family law, whereas most family law firms structure their business model around generating profit. Founded by Carolyn Devries, New Way Lawyers provides full family law advice and representation based on the principles of excellence, care, accessibility and innovation.
For those with an interest in joining the Lunch with a Lawyer group, you can simply search Lunch with a Lawyer on Facebook and then request to join. A link to the group can also be found here. If you would like to contact New Way Lawyers directly, you can phone them for a free 20-minute consultation on 07 3548 5890.