Two recent divorce settlements have seen both women involved appeal to have their settlements overturned in the Supreme Court.
The two women both claim their ex-husbands misled judges about how much they are worth. The court will now decide if divorce settlements can be re-negotiated if either side is found to have been dishonest, or if they can only be re-opened if the dishonesty was ‘material’; significant enough to have impacted the settlement decision.
In one case, Ms Sharland accepted £10 million from her husband when they separated in 2010 after 17 years of marriage. She believed it to be about half of his fortune but later found out he had lied about the value of his company, which was actually thought to be around £600 million.
The other case in question is slightly different, with Varsha Gohil accepting £270,000 and a car as a settlement after divorcing in 2002. In 2010, her ex-husband was convicted of money laundering and jailed for 10 years. At his trial, evidence revealed he had failed to disclose his true wealth in the divorce proceedings. The Court of Appeal ruled that information from his criminal trial could not be used to overturn the settlement outcome.
With both of these women, it is about a matter of principle and justice. Across the UK, the general pattern of divorce settlements is that the starting point for the split of assets is a 50/50 split (exact 50/50 splits are rare). This leads to many people not disclosing all of their assets, with many getting away with it without the court finding out their true value.
This is the first time in many years that the most senior court in the country is looking into the issue, so could potentially lead to an overhaul in the divorce process. If this is the case, there could be a rise in pre-nuptial agreements when resolving financial disputes in family cases; which may be taken into account under the factors the Court is required to consider.
At Fraser Brown, we handle a wide range of family law issues and can provide advice on all stages, from nuptial agreements to financial settlements as a result of divorce.
For more information about divorce or any other family law matter, please contact us on 0115 9888 777.