14 Oct No more lies in court?
I am delighted that two ex-wives who say they should have been paid more in their divorce settlements from their wealthy husbands have won their Supreme Court battle. Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil claimed that the court was misled about how much their ex partners were worth.
I hope this paves the way for many cases to be reopened so fair settlements can now be reached. It should also wipe the smug grins of the faces of many ex partners who have gloated about how clever they were during their divorce.
I hear many stories from my clients about how money has disappeared, been hidden, moved off shore and simply vanished into thin air without a trace. It is extremely frustrating if you had little or no control over your finances during your marriage as in some cases it is hard to know what your net worth as a family is. You have to put your trust in your ex to be honest and transparent and to provide all the necessary documents.
This system is open to abuse from even relatively amicable couples as fears about future security and lifestyle take over rational thought at such a traumatic time. So when an acrimonious couple looks at finances the chances of it being fair are extremely low. Relying on one party to provide honest and fair account of finances is ludicrous and has time and time again proven to be an inaccurate way to calculate a fair settlement for both sides. In fact there has been so little punishment for purgery in family courts that it could be seen by some to be worth lying to see if you can get away with it.
If your partner is lying you will have to prove it and this is no easy task. If the separation was planned the money may have been moved over a period of time or maybe hidden within a business or in off shore accounts which are difficult if not impossible to track down if they are not in your name.
All this increases tension between the parties and aggravates the situation even more. A bitter battle over money puts pressure on the whole family and can have negative effects on children if not handled well. Hopefully this ruling will help put an end to lying about finances in court as consequences now exist.
I do get frustrated when people call women (as it is usually the women who find themselves in this position) “gold diggers” simply for fighting for what is legally their fair share of the family pot. The women in this case have already been awarded large sums of money and many have asked why they are fighting for more. However there is more at stake here than just monetary gain. There is justice and honesty winning over deceit. Why is it that the husbands are not labelled “thieves” for their part in this and also the financial experts that help them? Many now they will be.
Alison Sharland said after the ruling:
“The proceedings have dragged on and, at times, I have considered whether it was the right thing to do to continue my appeal, especially as there has been criticism about my pursuing the appeal because of the amount of the award which I originally received.
However, I know that there are potentially others who are not in the same position as me financially, those who cannot afford to pursue a principle, and I wanted to pursue my appeal to ensure that they too are not faced with a situation where their spouse tells lies which potentially affects the outcome and interferes with achieving a just and fair settlement for either their husband or their wife and their family.
‘The courts have at last demonstrated that the English legal system will not allow dishonest spouses to mislead the court or their former partner. I believe that justice has been done.”
Well done Alison and Varsha for fighting so hard that the legal system sat up and listened. You have increased the chances of a fair settlement for many across the country. There will be many lying ex husbands not sleeping easy tonight!