Fraud unravels all
The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed the appeals of two wives, both of whom stated that they were misled by their ex-husbands and should have received more in their respective divorce settlements. This ruling sends a clear message that there is a zero tolerance for non-disclosure and the family courts are not to be used as an open playing field for cheats and fraudsters.
Mrs Sharland accepted a lump sum of £10m together with a 30% share of the proceeds of her ex-husband’s shares in his company once he sold them. She accepted this offer on the basis that this award represented half of her ex-husband’s assets. It later emerged that this was not the case at all. Mr Sharland’s company was in fact estimated to be worth in the region of £600m and it transpired that he had failed to disclose within the matrimonial proceedings that he planned to float his company on the stock market.
In Mrs Gohil’s case, she agreed a settlement of £270,000 back in 2004 and this agreement was sealed in an Order. At the time of entering into the agreement, Mrs Gohil raised her suspicions that her ex-husband had not provided full and frank financial disclosure however, in order to achieve closure, she accepted the offer anyway and this was recorded within the Court Order.
Whilst it is not yet certain whether either wife will achieve a greater award as a result of their appeals being allowed; the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case has reinforced the importance of applying the fundamental principles within divorce proceedings namely transparency and full and frank disclosure.
This ruling will no doubt cause a stir amongst couples who are in the process of divorcing and those who have already achieved a settlement in their divorce. Whether it will lead to more former spouses coming forward with appeals for orders/agreements to be set aside is yet to be seen but it should at the very least send a message to those whom wish to try and deceive the courts that they do so at their own risk!
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Relationships do fall apart all too frequently but that doesn't make it any easier for the people involved. Inevitably, it's an emotional and stressful situation, and the down-to-earth, objective approach of an experienced adviser will help you get through it.
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Published: 15 Oct 2015