We previously blogged on the cases of Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil, two ex-wives contesting their divorce settlement on the grounds they had been purposely misled as to the true value of their former husbands’ assets. Both believed that they were entitled to more than they initially received, taking their appeal to the Supreme Court.
Today the court returned the unanimous verdict that both cases should be re-examined, allowing the wives to pursue a larger settlement than the one they previously received. The landmark ruling is set to have major ramifications throughout the family law sector, potentially opening the floodgates for previously settled divorce cases where one party finds evidence to suggest that assets were not disclosed, or even actively hidden, during the original proceeding, and as such are left discontented with their share of the matrimonial assets.
What does the ruling mean?
Alison Sharland, who received a settlement valued at £10.35m in properties and cash from her ex-husband, will call for her case to be re-examined. Whilst this may seem like a substantial settlement, Sharland could in fact be entitled to much more, as her ex husband purposely wove a false trail, deceiving the courts regarding the true value of his company and firm. An estimate places the value of her ex-husband’s firm at £656million, not the £37-47million he previously claimed.
Similarly Varsha Gohil, who was also deceived, will be able to pursue further proceedings against her husband who was convicted of money laundering offences following their divorce. Although Gohil accepted her £270,000 over ten years ago, her claim will still carry the same weight as Sharland’s in the court.
It is yet unclear as to how much the women believe they are entitled to, but both will argue for a greater share of the marital assets than was previously awarded.
The verdict returned by the Surpreme Court reinforces the need for both parties to give full and frank disclosure in relation to their financial assets. Failure to comply can result in severe penalties, the true extent of which will be fully realised following the re-examination of both Sharland and Gohil’s cases.
If we can take anything from this decision it is the importance of securing legal advice regarding financial matters at the earliest opportunity. Once the decision to divorce has been made, seeking guidance from an expert lawyer who specialises in financial separation is not only sensible but essential.
Here at Farleys Solicitors our dedicated Family law team have a wealth of experience handling high value divorce settlements. Our expertise in this complex area of law means we are well-equipped to advise you on all aspects of the divorce and financial separation process. To speak to a specialist solicitor please don’t hesitate to call 0845 050 1958. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.