High profile divorce ruling reminds us why honesty counts

Tue 20th Oct 2015

The long-awaiting outcome of a high profile case has seen Alison Sharland and Varsha Godhill get more in their divorce settlements after it was ruled that their former husbands had not disclosed all of their financial assets. Head of Family and Coodes Partner Elise Alma explains what any divorcing couple can learn from the ruling.

“Since making the headlines, this case has already led to the Coodes Family team getting enquiries from people who have discovered after their divorce was finalised that their spouse had capital or pensions that were not disclosed at the time.

“When deciding how finances should be divided during a divorce, both parties have a duty to ensure that they give a full account of their financial position to the other party and the Court.

“The question that stood to be decided in these two high profile cases was what the Court should do when the husbands had not provided that full disclosure. The cases were originally referred to the Court of Appeal who decided that the decision should not be overturned.

“On appeal, the Supreme Court has reinforced the fundamental principle that both parties must provide full and frank financial disclosure so that an informed decision can be made as to what is a fair settlement.

“In the event that this does not take place the Court confirmed that “fraud unravels all”. One party should not be able to benefit from achieving a better outcome by for example not revealing assets or undervaluing them. By doing so there is a real risk that the case can be reopened and the other party could be awarded a more generous settlement.

“You should take legal advice if this applies to you but there does have to be a note of caution as reopening such cases inevitably involves substantial costs and this has to be a carefully balance decision. The two cases in the news both involved very substantial assets, so the costs could be justified.

“The practical implication for most people is to remember the duty to be completely honest about your finances. If you fail to disclose relevant facts or deliberately try to mislead, you will not only risk your settlement being overturned and your dishonesty being held against you, but you are also likely to have to pay the other party’s costs.

“To achieve certainty for the future you must make sure that you have been honest. Trying to mislead your spouse and the Court by concealing finances will inevitably come back to bite.”

For further advice and assistance, contact Elise Alma at Coodes Solicitors: 01566 770015 or elise.alma@coodes.co.uk

Tue 20th Oct 2015

Elise Alma

Partner

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