Family Lore Clinic: How will the courts order my ex to pay me a settlement when he has depleted all his assets?

If it considers it appropriate, a court can order one party to pay a lump sum to the other, even if the paying party currently has no assets. So, if that party has purposely depleted their assets the court can still proceed on the basis that the original value of the assets are still part of the 'pot' available for distribution between the parties.

Having said that, when ordering a party to pay a lump sum the court will of course consider that party's ability to raise the sum. The court will not require immediate payment of a sum that that party cannot afford to borrow. However, the court could increase the amount they pay by ordering them to pay by instalments over a period of time.

In the end, though, the sums that the paying party has got rid of may be more than they could raise within any reasonable period, in which case the other party may lose out.

Accordingly, it is important that you take swift action if you are concerned that the other party to a divorce settlement is likely to deplete their assets in an attempt to reduce or defeat your claim against them.

It appears to be too late here, but if you are so concerned then you can ask the court to make an order preventing the other party from doing transferring assets, or even overturning any such transactions they have already made.

As usual, if the above applies to you, then you should seek the advice of a specialist family lawyer.