In dealing with matrimonial finances, we advise our clients to obtain financial disclosure before agreeing to any settlement. Financial disclosure ensures that all parties know what is in the matrimonial pot and enables us to advise on what is a fair settlement in each client’s individual circumstances. But what happens if you believe your spouse has not been truthful in their disclosure?
Ms Varsha Gohil and Ms Alison Sharland are two women who want to reopen negotiations in their divorce settlements because they believe that their ex-husbands concealed the true value of their assets during the original divorce proceedings. Both women claim that they only accepted the settlement they received because they thought their ex-husband’s had been honest in their disclosure. However, both women have now discovered that their ex-husbands’ assets are worth significantly more than what they had disclosed at the time. Both women therefore feel that they are entitled to more than the settlement they received.
If the Supreme Court rule in favour of Ms Gohil and Ms Sharland, then this would potentially open the floodgates which could lead to thousands of divorce cases being re-opened. Nevertheless, prominent figures in the legal profession are confident that the Court would take a common-sense approach and only allow cases to be re-opened where it is clear that the dishonesty has led to the other party accepting a significantly less amount than what they ought to have received in the circumstances. Many also feel that tougher penalties should be introduced in order to deter those from committing dishonesty in the first place.
It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court will address the issue of failure to disclose in divorce settlements and what impact this will have on future cases.