By Karen Moores
When the ex-wives of two very wealthy men found that their divorce settlements had been concluded on the basis of information supplied by their husbands which was clearly wrong, a series of legal cases culminated in a decision by the Supreme Court which shows that the courts may be expected to clamp down hard on those who give misleading evidence in such cases.
The two women claimed that their husbands had deliberately misled them by hiding their true wealth throughout legal proceedings to divide their respective family assets. The result was that they had accepted smaller settlements than they were rightfully due. They asked the Court to set aside the earlier divorce settlements that had been agreed.
In one case, the Court of Appeal agreed that the husband’s valuation of his business had been fraudulent, but would not overturn the settlement, holding that the outcome would not have been significantly different.
In the second case, it was discovered that the husband had failed to disclose the existence of significant assets. He was later convicted of fraud. However, the Court of Appeal refused to reopen the divorce settlement.
The Supreme Court has now overturned both decisions, which may have a significant impact on divorces throughout the land as it clearly demonstrates that where there is material deception in disclosing the true value of assets during divorce proceedings, the courts are likely to order the settlements to be reconsidered.
If you are concerned that your spouse is attempting to present themselves as having fewer assets than they really do, contact us. We are experienced in ensuring full disclosure of assets is achieved.
Sydney Mitchell is a Midlands based award winning law firm, with offices in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon and Shirley with additional facilities in Sutton Coldfield. Offering a range of specialist legal services for both businesses and individuals, are listed in the Top Tier of the Legal 500, Lexcel accredited and won the Law Firm of the Year in 2015 (5-15 partners) in the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards (having won the award five times in the last seven years).
The firm’s specialist teams include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation and insolvency. Private client teams include family law, residential property, dispute resolution and wills and probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.
* Karen Moores is Head of Family Law at Sydney Mitchell LLP