Hiding assets in a divorce.
In a recent matter before the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of DEB v MGB 2014 ZASCA 137, the court expressed its disapproval of parties in divorce proceedings who does not properly disclose their assets. The attitude of many husbands, particularly in relation to money claims where they control the money and assets, can be characterized as “catch me if you can”.
They set themselves up as immovable objects in the hopes that they will wear down the other party. They use every means to do so. They fail to discover and disclose properly, fail to provide any particulars of assets within their peculiar knowledge and generally delay and obfuscate in the hope that they will not be “caught” and have to disgorge what is in law due to the other party.
In this matter the husband clearly failed to comply with the provisions of s 7 of the Act. He delayed providing what were obviously relevant documents until the last minute and then did not discover them. He declined to provide any documents concerning the financial position of one of his businesses. He did not provide documents which could be used to trace assets derived from the excluded assets. He did not prove that documents relating to another business were furnished timeously or at all pursuant to a subpoena issued after initially claiming that he could not furnish these without the consent of his co-trustees. He inexplicably did not testify and then took a technical point concerning documentary proof.
The court stated that the approach of the husband deserved censure and may have warranted a punitive costs order at the trial.
In this matter the husband was ordered to pay the wife an amount of R 6.4 million and to transfer half of a loan account of approximately R 11 million to her. The husband was also ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.
Compiled by Bertus Preller – Family Law and Divorce Attorney