In light of a number of recent Supreme Court rulings, Keystone’s Family expert Claire O’Flinn discusses the topical matter of financial disclosure during divorce.
The recent victory, at the Supreme Court, for Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil in their landmark divorce ruling unmistakably highlights the English family court’s stringent demands on transparency of financial disclosure, during divorce proceedings.
As these two cases illustrate, in divorce, whether the assets concerned are worth £10,000,000 or £10,000, fraudulent disclosure, or non-disclosure, is equally serious. Ultimately, in both the Sharland and Gohil cases, the court came to the decision that the wives were entitled to a share in the hidden wealth of their ex-husbands. Both women are now expected to receive enhanced awards when their cases return to the courts.
This comes just two years after the Supreme Court handed down a judgment in the divorce case of Michael and Yasmine Prest, which signalled that the courts would no longer tolerate parties who deliberately try to hide assets, in that case deliberately hiding business assets.
Of course, for many people in the midst of divorce proceedings, the idea of having to disclose their financial assets is not an appealing one. It can be a costly and lengthy exercise, and some are not entirely comfortable with the idea of disclosing all of their assets. This is a common phenomenon of family law. Here are some basic guidelines on the do’s and don’ts of financial disclosure:
Full disclosure allows an open and amicable settlement to be reached (often within court proceedings but before the hearing itself) and tends to lead to longer-lasting agreements. Conversely, any agreement reached under mistrust is likely to fail or have future repercussions.
In short, full and frank disclosure is the best way. If there is something unsavoury within your finances, then you should discuss this with your lawyer. They may be able to present the circumstances in such a way that the worst can be mitigated.
Honesty is always the best policy.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.