Continuing the series of family law Q&A collaboration between Expatriate Law and ExpatChild.
My husband is moving our savings without my agreement; do I need a freezing order?
Our firm often come across cases where one spouse may take it upon themselves to punish the other by way of depriving them financially, for example by spending frivolously or by selling assets or transferring them to third parties in order to take them out of the matrimonial pot and out of their spouse’s reach.
If you are suspicious that your spouse may be taking steps to deal with an asset in such a way that would defeat any claim you may have to it, then it may be appropriate for you to apply for a freezing order. This is a protective order that prevents the asset in question from being disposed of whilst the divorce proceedings are ongoing. The decision to apply for such an order should not be taken lightly as this is a complex area of law, and requires a court application.
There are a number of factors that the court must consider when contemplating whether to make a freezing order. Primarily a judge would need to be satisfied that your husband/wife is seeking to sell or deal with an asset with the intention of defeating your financial claim to it. Their intention to deprive you or put the asset out of your reach must be established in order for the application to succeed, and clear evidence of this is required. Further, there is a high duty of candour placed on you, meaning that you must ensure that you are completely transparent and honest in your application and any evidence presented to the court. If you are found not have to have been honest in your application, the court can make costs orders against you.
If your husband/wife has already made the transfer, it is also possible for the court to make an order to set aside a transaction. This is called an ‘avoidance of disposition’ application. The court can do this if the judge considers that the transfer was carried out with the intention of defeating your financial claim in some way. This is another complex area of law, and if you are concerned that your spouse has taken any such steps as part of their planning for a divorce, then it is vital that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free initial call with a senior lawyer in our team.
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