Dishonesty in Divorce Cases
When trying to reach an agreement over the finances following divorce, there is an obligation on both parties to fully and honestly disclose to each other the assets that each of them own.The Supreme Court recently heard a joint appeal to overturn the financial settlements made in two divorce cases where the applicants are both arguing that the financial agreements they reached with their former spouses should be changed as a result of their spouses not fully disclosing their assets.
In Sharland, the wife agreed to a financial settlement of £10.35million with her husband following their divorce after a 17 year marriage. The husband was a shareholder in a software company and the financial settlement was reached on the basis that his shares in the company were worth around £32 million. However, it was later discovered that the husband's shares were worth approximately £132 million after tax. It was accepted by the Court of Appeal that the husband had been dishonest as to the value of his shares. However, the court ruled that the original financial settlement should stand because, despite the husband's dishonesty, his wife was unlikely to have been awarded a larger settlement.
In Gohil, the wife agreed to a financial settlement of £270,000 and a car. Her husband was a London solicitor who was later jailed for money laundering. During his criminal trial, evidence of his failure to make full disclosure of his finances was discovered. The High Court ruled that the husband had not fully disclosed his financial assets and set aside the original settlement. However, the Court of Appeal overruled the High Court on the basis that the courts were not allowed to use evidence from the husband's criminal trial as it had not been released by the Crown Prosecution Service. This meant that this could not be used as evidence in the divorce proceedings that the husband had not fully disclosed his financial assets previously.
These two cases reaching the Supreme Court, the highest court in this country, are important as the court will give a final decision, and hopefully guidance, as to how dishonesty in financial proceedings following divorce should be handled.
The solicitor acting for the wives in both cases commented that: “the decisions will affect those people with more modest assets and sums involved which is why they are so important. Dishonesty in any legal proceedings should not be tolerated; the family court should not be an exception. There are numerous legal arguments to be heard by the Supreme Court but we hope that ultimately justice will be done and will be seen to be done."
The decision of the joint appeal is yet to be released but, regardless of the decision, it is important to highlight that, when trying to reach an agreement over the finances following divorce, there remains an obligation to fully disclose all the assets that each person owns.
If you would like more information on your options if facing divorce please contact Simon Thomas on 01480 442078 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of family solicitors are highly experienced in all aspects of family law. We are also able to offer a full range of dispute resolution options including mediation and collaborative family law details of which can be found on our website: www.leedsday.co.uk/services-for-individuals/family/