Divorce Lawyer

Divorce Settlements may be reopened if ex lied about wealth, Court rules


A recent landmark ruling at the UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court, has resulted in two women winning the right to have their divorce settlements re-examined on the grounds that their ex-husbands hid key financial information and misled judges about how much they were worth during the original divorce proceedings.  In the ruling on Wednesday 14th October, the bench of seven justices unanimously agreed that dishonesty or fraud involving failure to disclose financial assets are grounds for renegotiating previously resolved disagreements.   

In one of the cases in question, the Claimant had accepted cash and properties to the value of £10.35m from her ex-husband in a divorce settlement three years ago.  It later emerged that shares in his company were worth considerably more than the £31m - £47m estimate that his lawyers had disclosed during the proceedings.  One estimate put the firm’s actual value at £656m.

This is obviously an example of a very high value divorce case but the implications of this ruling are far reaching and it will hopefully act as a strong deterrent to anyone who may be tempted to withhold key financial information in an attempt to reduce their payout in a divorce. 

Head of our Family Department, Kath Hill, said, “This will send a strong message to those who think they can get away with being less than honest with their financial disclosure.”

The ruling will no doubt tempt some aggrieved ex-spouses to try and renegotiate historic settlements, but it should be noted that courts will require clear evidence of material non-disclosure before such a case would ever be heard.  If you require any further information on the implications of this ruling, or would like advice on any aspect of financial settlements in divorce proceedings, please contact Kath Hill on 0191 384 2441, or by e-mail on kh@swinburnemaddison.co.uk.

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