MacNairs + Wilson

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Women Win Right to Reopen Divorce Settlement

Two women who stated that their ex-husbands mislead judges about how much they were worth have won their appeal to have their settlements re-examined.

Both women claimed that their husbands had lied about how much they were worth and, as a result, their case will now go back to the High Court so that a fair settlement can be reached. According to a panel of judges dishonesty or fraud involving failure to disclose financial assets are grounds for renegotiating.

Right to Re-Settle

It is unknown if many ex-partners will now look to negotiate a settlement from their husbands, however, when delivering the judgement, Lady Hale, deputy president of the supreme court stated that both women had been deprived of their right to a fair hearing.

Alison Sharland had accepted £10.35m in cash and properties from her ex-husband, Charles, in the settlement according to the case. However, it was revealed that shares in his company AppSense were worth considerably more than previously revealed when negotiating the settlement.

One estimate put the firm’s value at $1bn (£656m), although lawyers at the time told the court that it was worth between £31m and £47m. In the other divorce settlement case, Bhadresh Gohil was found to be breaking the law and was convicted of money laundering following their divorce, justices heard.  She had accepted £270,000 plus a car from her ex-husband more than a decade ago. In the initial trial, there was no evidence that he had broken the law to obtain his wealth with his wife being prevented from providing evidence. Further developments, however, have allowed her to appeal

Many solicitors have condemned the action of the husbands in the case with others praising the judgement that they believe will act as a clear deterrent to those who are thinking about being fraudulent during any sort of divorce.

Protection Through Marriage

While the case has been welcomed by many, it proves the protections that are in place during a marriage. Unlike the two cases about many unmarried couples remain exposed to unfair settlements as a result.

Cohabitation is fast becoming the main family type in the UK with over 6 million people cohabiting without any sort of protection, double the amount than 20 years previously. Worryingly, however, more than 58% of Brits believed that when a couple cohabits they had the same, or similar legal rights to those who are married, however, this is simply not the case. If your relationship breaks down and you are cohabiting there is no way (other than a lengthy legal action or settlement) to ensure that you get what you believe is yours.

There are some steps you can take to ensure you are protected either when married or when cohabiting, getting a prenuptial agreement ensures that everything you bring to the relationship is protected. For those that are cohabiting, there is the option of creating a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation, much like a prenuptial agreement, allows you to divide assets if your relationship breaks down. Keeping an updated will is also a favourable option and if you are in a long-term relationship you can legally leave items to your loved ones and your partner without the protection of marriage. However, it is vital to ensure that your will is kept up to date. Sadly, cohabitees do not automatically have rights to their partner’s estate if they die without leaving a will.

Family Solicitors: Contact Us

If you wish to speak to one of our solicitors about obtaining a divorce, beginning proceedings or even what you need to think about when going through a divorce, contact us today. We can help you create a will or cohabitation agreement and provide you with the best advice regarding any matter of family law. Get in touch using our online contact form.

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