Matrimonial floodgates to open?

October 20, 2015

Thousands of divorcees could return to court to seek more money from their ex following a Supreme Court ruling last week.

Spouses who lied about their financial position during the divorce process can now be hauled back to court and made to pay what they should.

The ruling concerned two cases – those of Varsha Gohil and Alison Sharland – both of whom discovered that their ex-husbands had lied about their assets. As a result, they’ve now been told they can go back to court.
Both cases involve substantial amounts of money: Ms Sharland had already been awarded £10 million in her original settlement, and Ms Gohil £270,000 plus a car.

However, Mr Sharland’s company – which he had claimed was worth less than £10 million – was shortly afterwards valued at more than £600 million. Mr Gohil, meanwhile, was discovered to have lied during his divorce after being found guilty of money laundering.

But is this a ruling that’s only relevant to the wealthy – or could the less well-off also head back to court?
Astonishingly, there’s no way for a divorcing partner to know any more about their ex’s finances than the ex decides to reveal: no way for the court to check, for example, whether they have secret bank accounts or not. The system relies entirely on people being honest to the court.

As a result, there are likely to be many thousands of divorce cases where one partner has got away with telling less than the truth. Indeed, a recent survey found that almost half of divorcing spouses hide assets from the other.

Changes to legal aid eligibility two years ago mean that few people get help with their divorce bills any more. Cost could mean a trip back to court wouldn’t be worth it unless the amount of money that’s been hidden is fairly significant. If you are concerned or have any queries, please give us a call.

Danny Hudson is a Partner and matrimonial expert at Watsons Solicitors.

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