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Freezing Orders and Asset Protection

Mary Tyler Moore

“You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.”

In what circumstances will the court make a freezing order?

A Judge will make a freezing order if they are satisfied that the one spouse is about to sell or otherwise get rid of an asset with the intention of preventing the other spouse from receiving any financial benefit.

What factors will the court consider when considering whether to make a freezing order?

  • There must be solid evidence of an intention to get rid of the assets by one of the spouses
  • You must show that refusing to make a freezing order would create a real risk of injustice, for example if you are looking to freeze assets worth £250,000, but there is equity in the matrimonial home of £1 million, which you jointly own with your spouse so they cannot sell it without your agreement, your financial claims on divorce are likely to be fully met from the equity in the house, so a freezing order may not be necessary
  • The court will only agree to freeze assets to the value of your claim and no more

What risks are there applying for a freezing order?

If your application for a freezing order is unsuccessful you are likely to be ordered to pay your spouse’s legal costs relating to the application, as well as your own, so these applications must be considered very carefully before they are made. You are likely to have to undertake (promise) to the court to pay any costs incurred by your spouse or a third party as a result of the granting of a freezing order and to compensate anyone who incurs financial loss as a result of the freezing order.

I have been served with a freezing order – what do I do?

You need to seek urgent advice from a specialist matrimonial lawyer.

What happens If I disobey a freezing order?

You can be sent to prison and/or fined if you breach a freezing order, so it is very important that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as you are served with said freezing order.

Will a freezing order cover assets abroad?

A freezing order can cover assets abroad, but only where the courts in the country where the assets are situated will cooperate with that freezing order.

I am worried that my spouse is getting rid of assets

Getting divorced can be a very stressful time for many. When stressed, people can behave irrationally. This behavior can include attempting to getting rid of assets in the hope of reducing their spouse’s financial claims within the divorce.

If you are genuinely concerned that your spouse is about to transfer assets out of the jurisdiction or give assets to friends and family, and you have evidence to support this concern, you can apply for a freezing order, which will prevent your spouse from disposing of their assets. For example you can have bank accounts frozen. You can also freeze something that your spouse has not yet received, such as the proceeds of sale of their property if a sale of the sale of the property has already been agreed and completion is to take place shortly.

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If you suspect that your spouse is trying to dispose of assets or you have been served with a freezing order then you must seek urgent advice.  Contact our specialist team today.

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