Impact of Fraud in divorce settlements considered in the UK Supreme Court
The UK’s highest court heard today the cases of two wives pursuing their ex-husband’s for millions of pounds that they say their ex concealed from them. Alison Sharland received £10m from her ex-husband when they divorced but her husband’s company Manchester software company was worth many more millions of pounds. Mrs Sharland argues she should have received significantly more. Her court action, in conjunction with another ex-wife, Varsha Gohil, who also believes her ex-husband concealed the true value of his wealth.
Both women allege they have been shortchanged by their ex-husbands and denied justice if they were deprived from re-opening their settlement agreement. They argue that all ex-spouses should be entitled to reopen negotiations in a concluded divorce agreement where there have been deception. A fear of “floodgates opening” of many thousands of old settled divorce cases did not constitute legal grounds for refusing Alison Sharland’s request, her barrister told the supreme court. If successful, it is projected that there are many thousands of such cases arising whereex-partners will attempt to renegotiate divorce settlements.
Alison Sharland had accepted £10.35m in cash and properties from her ex-husband in the settlement but her husband’s company was worth many times more than that which was disclosed in the their divorce case. In the lower court (Court of Appeal) the judges had agreed that Alison Sharland husband’s non-disclosure had been deliberate but two of the three judges believed they should not overturn the original settlement even though his evidence was “seriously misleading” it would not have led to a significantly different outcome.
In the other case before the Supreme Court, the court of appeal had found that Varsha Gohil’s husband true business activity was of an eye watering scale and as a couple have three grown-up children who remained financially dependent on their mother.
Clearly, there is a case for a review of the remedies in law for perjury when a spouse is dishonest about assets.
The UK Supreme Court’s judgment is expected later this year whether or not a spouse will be able to get away without disclosure true financial wealth.