Hiding money in divorce Scotland

My mother in law is living in a controlling marriage.  She has wanted to leave for over 30 years but as she’s never been part of any of the finances she feels stuck as she has no savings to survive on her own. She is convinced her husband would hide any money that he does have.  She was a stay at home parent until their kids were in their teens and he feels she’s lived a life of luxury for it.  Their house is in a state of disrepair needs new windows and we have recently found mould and damp in the floor.  Her husband refuses to make any repairs and has commented if she knew what money he had she would be ordering windows and booking holidays so he clearly has a decent amount.
where does she stand legally? I can’t see her in tears dreading to go home much mores. We have offered her to stay with us but she feels a burden. He won’t let her put the fire on unless he deems it cold enough. 

Comments

  • I’m sorry but she needs to get out now and have some hope of future happiness. In a divorce any assets would need to be shared equally. Get some legal advice. She needs to leave.
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,345
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    Can she search for any information when he is out of the house?  She must have seen the post arriving over the years or things put in the trash so might have an idea of where he banks.  

    I would also suggest that you/she talk to a local women's refuge as they will have lots of ideas on how to proceed and be able to help her with the transition.  
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • Exodi
    Exodi Posts: 2,789
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    edited 23 November 2023 at 10:30AM
    I’m sorry but she needs to get out now and have some hope of future happiness. In a divorce any assets would need to be shared equally. Get some legal advice. She needs to leave.
    In a Utopian world, yes.

    While failing to provide a full financial disclosure can lead to criminal liability for fraud and it is possible to apply to the court for orders on the banks to freeze or disclose details of the accounts, if the partner was to not disclose assets and the mother in law is completely unaware of what or where the other assets are, the vague notion "I'm sure there's more" is not useful.

    This forum regularly advises that before a divorce is initiated, parties gather evidence of what accounts are held ... as you can appreciate, divorcing parties can be quite uncooperative.

    Brie said:
    Can she search for any information when he is out of the house?  She must have seen the post arriving over the years or things put in the trash so might have an idea of where he banks. 
    I think this is a better route to go down - and look on the computer, phone apps, etc. Try and get some of these details before initiating divorce.
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  • Malthusian
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    Lordy2024 said:
    Her husband refuses to make any repairs and has commented if she knew what money he had she would be ordering windows and booking holidays so he clearly has a decent amount.
    I don't think it's clear he does at all. As a general rule, people who don't carry out essential repairs and don't put the heating on in freezing weather tend to have less money than those who do.

    (Yes, he could be a miser. But she should start from the assumption that there is no money and then it will be a bonus if she does extract any from the divorce.)

    The longer she delays taking action, the more time he has to hide money (if indeed there is any) and the more the house will fall apart, which erodes the value of the only marital asset mentioned that he can't possibly hide.

    Your question was where she stands legally - the starting point is that she is entitled to 50% of the marriage assets. Both of them would be required to declare the full extent of their assets. As others have said, any information she can obtain on what his might be before she leaves will put her in a stronger position. 

     I can’t see her in tears dreading to go home much mores. We have offered her to stay with us but she feels a burden.

    So she is happy to stay with someone who tells her she is a burden but not with someone who tells her she won't be. You need to be prepared for the possibility you might be banging your head against this wall for some time; you have made a very generous offer but can't force her to take it up.  

  • Lordy2024 said:
    Her husband refuses to make any repairs and has commented if she knew what money he had she would be ordering windows and booking holidays so he clearly has a decent amount.
    I don't think it's clear he does at all. As a general rule, people who don't carry out essential repairs and don't put the heating on in freezing weather tend to have less money than those who do.

    (Yes, he could be a miser. But she should start from the assumption that there is no money and then it will be a bonus if she does extract any from the divorce.)

    The longer she delays taking action, the more time he has to hide money (if indeed there is any) and the more the house will fall apart, which erodes the value of the only marital asset mentioned that he can't possibly hide.

    Your question was where she stands legally - the starting point is that she is entitled to 50% of the marriage assets. Both of them would be required to declare the full extent of their assets. As others have said, any information she can obtain on what his might be before she leaves will put her in a stronger position. 

     I can’t see her in tears dreading to go home much mores. We have offered her to stay with us but she feels a burden.

    So she is happy to stay with someone who tells her she is a burden but not with someone who tells her she won't be. You need to be prepared for the possibility you might be banging your head against this wall for some time; you have made a very generous offer but can't force her to take it up.  

    I totally understand where you’re coming from with the “if there is money” he has two private pensions, state pension and decided to go back to work part time in his words “for something to do” hasn’t had a mortgage for over 30 years and has 6 motorbikes that want for nothing, about 5 years ago my mother in law came across bank statements for an account she didn’t know about with over a hundred thousand but she didn’t bring it up and just put the paperwork back…it’s since been moved. 
    Not maintaining the house isn’t a new thing, he doesn’t like to spend money on something he doesn’t see the value in. The woodburner was fitted a few years ago and since that’s gone in mother in law isn’t allowed to touch it despite her having dealt with the open fire for the years before. 

    I love them both to bits and sad to see things going the way they are, but both have said separately that they shouldn’t be together but neither will go any further down the road, him we feel due to having to split what he sees as “his money” and her for the fear of being left with nothing and also how he would cope without her, as she still does all the cooking, shopping etc. 

    I will see if she will get some legal advice and maybe have another look around for information on accounts etc but as you say it’s up to her in the end.
  • Exodi said:
    I’m sorry but she needs to get out now and have some hope of future happiness. In a divorce any assets would need to be shared equally. Get some legal advice. She needs to leave.
    In a Utopian world, yes.

    While failing to provide a full financial disclosure can lead to criminal liability for fraud and it is possible to apply to the court for orders on the banks to freeze or disclose details of the accounts, if the partner was to not disclose assets and the mother in law is completely unaware of what or where the other assets are, the vague notion "I'm sure there's more" is not useful.

    This forum regularly advises that before a divorce is initiated, parties gather evidence of what accounts are held ... as you can appreciate, divorcing parties can be quite uncooperative.

    Brie said:
    Can she search for any information when he is out of the house?  She must have seen the post arriving over the years or things put in the trash so might have an idea of where he banks. 
    I think this is a better route to go down - and look on the computer, phone apps, etc. Try and get some of these details before initiating divorce.
    Everyone should be aware of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 before accessing any system without permission, or inciting someone else to do so.
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  • RAS
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    OP, we assume the post arrives? Unless hubbie is getting to it first, the MIL can read the return address on anything that she thinks is a bill or account, and maybe text that to her daughter, assuming her phone is safe?

    That will identify any company with whom FIL has contact, for a start.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Posts: 10,838
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    Lordy2024 said:
    I totally understand where you’re coming from with the “if there is money” he has two private pensions, state pension 
    Private pensions would be part of the division of the marital assets and can be split. State Pension can't be split, but it doesn't practically matter; their respective State Pension entitlement can be taken into account in the split of other assets. 

    If they are annuities or defined benefit pensions - i.e. fixed amounts payable on a regular basis, over which he has no or minimal control - they are practically impossible to hide. A drawdown / money purchase pension by contrast could be drawn by him and spent or dissipated.
  • 74jax
    74jax Posts: 7,921
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    Lordy2024 said:
    Lordy2024 said:
    Her husband refuses to make any repairs and has commented if she knew what money he had she would be ordering windows and booking holidays so he clearly has a decent amount.
    I don't think it's clear he does at all. As a general rule, people who don't carry out essential repairs and don't put the heating on in freezing weather tend to have less money than those who do.

    (Yes, he could be a miser. But she should start from the assumption that there is no money and then it will be a bonus if she does extract any from the divorce.)

    The longer she delays taking action, the more time he has to hide money (if indeed there is any) and the more the house will fall apart, which erodes the value of the only marital asset mentioned that he can't possibly hide.

    Your question was where she stands legally - the starting point is that she is entitled to 50% of the marriage assets. Both of them would be required to declare the full extent of their assets. As others have said, any information she can obtain on what his might be before she leaves will put her in a stronger position. 

     I can’t see her in tears dreading to go home much mores. We have offered her to stay with us but she feels a burden.

    So she is happy to stay with someone who tells her she is a burden but not with someone who tells her she won't be. You need to be prepared for the possibility you might be banging your head against this wall for some time; you have made a very generous offer but can't force her to take it up.  

    I totally understand where you’re coming from with the “if there is money” he has two private pensions, state pension and decided to go back to work part time in his words “for something to do” hasn’t had a mortgage for over 30 years and has 6 motorbikes that want for nothing, about 5 years ago my mother in law came across bank statements for an account she didn’t know about with over a hundred thousand but she didn’t bring it up and just put the paperwork back…it’s since been moved. 
    Not maintaining the house isn’t a new thing, he doesn’t like to spend money on something he doesn’t see the value in. The woodburner was fitted a few years ago and since that’s gone in mother in law isn’t allowed to touch it despite her having dealt with the open fire for the years before. 

    I love them both to bits and sad to see things going the way they are, but both have said separately that they shouldn’t be together but neither will go any further down the road, him we feel due to having to split what he sees as “his money” and her for the fear of being left with nothing and also how he would cope without her, as she still does all the cooking, shopping etc. 

    I will see if she will get some legal advice and maybe have another look around for information on accounts etc but as you say it’s up to her in the end.
    If you love them both, then he clearly has good points.  Afterall he isn't your father by blood, more by marriage so you are impartial.

    It may be time for tough love.  Every time they both say they shouldn't be together then you say 'ok, do you want the number of a solicitors, I can help you get started', if they say no then just ask them to stop saying it as it's causing you to think they want you to do something about it.

    Ask MIL one last time if she wants to move in with you, if she says no, say the door is always open if she does but that you'll stop asking as she clearly sees staying with him as more favorable option.

    Could he possibly be ill?  you say it's only in the last few years he had become like this? 

    Yet you say she has wanted to leave for 30 years, so she wanted to leave when he wasn't like this and remained. 

    I'ms saying this a DV survivor and not lightly.  Sometimes you have to offer help and guidance, and when they say no step away.  Let them know if they decide to do something you can always be counted on.
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