Family Court powers
MCA 1973, section 37
If your spouse has disposed of assets with a view to frustrating your claims for a financial settlement or she/he is about to do so, then it is important that you should know that the court has wide powers to deal with such situations.
Under section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the court can restrain someone from carrying out a transaction or from transferring assets out of the country or to someone else. In addition, the court can set aside (ie unscramble) certain transactions which have already been carried out where they were completed with the intention of defeating a claim for financial settlement arising from a marriage.
The court can exercise these powers whilst a financial application such as your own is proceeding or, indeed, in some cases after a financial provision order has been made.
However, the court cannot order a transaction to be set aside if someone bought the asset from your spouse in good faith without knowing that the motive behind the sale was to reduce your spouse’s assets to frustrate your claim.
If you make such an application to set aside a transaction made by your spouse then, if the transaction took place less than three years before your application, the court will presume that the transaction was completed to frustrate your financial claim unless there is convincing evidence to the contrary.
In addition to these powers, the court also has ‘inherent’ powers to prevent someone trying to defeat financial claims without the requirement that they have to prove an intention to frustrate their spouse’s or former spouse’s claim.
If you do consider that your spouse has acted in this way or that there is a risk that she/he will do so, please contact me for advice and I can prepare documentation to present to the court to persuade the district judge to exercise the appropriate powers.