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Do you know how much you are owed?

View profile for Jennifer Roulston
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When Dr Foster, the BBC drama everyone was talking about, admitted that she knew nothing of her husband’s assets, many will have winced at her naivety. But it turns out she’s not the only one.  Jennifer Roulston discusses.

Married couples may have agreed to share their lives – but are a bit more reluctant to share their bank statements. A survey (read more here) has found that almost half (56%) of married people do not know what their spouse earns. And a further third only divulge details of their finances to their partner on a ‘need to know’ basis.

But the latest landmark ruling from the Supreme Court proves that you really do need to know. Especially if you’re going through divorce.

Alison Sharland, 48, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, and Varsha Gohil, 50, from north London, both said their ex-husbands misled judges about how much they were worth. Mrs Sharland had accepted more than £10 million in cash and properties from ex-husband Charles, 54, three years ago, but claimed she was misled her over the value of his software business. Lawyers said she had thought the business was valued at between £31 million and £47 million but reports in the financial press put the value at £1 billion.

Similarly, Mrs Gohil had accepted £270,000 plus a car from ex-husband Bhadresh, 50, more than a decade ago but also sought to get a bigger payout, claiming her former husband had not disclosed his full wealth when she agreed to the original settlement.

They each wanted their claims re-analysed at fresh hearings, potential proceedings their ex-husbands were staunchly against, but a desire the Supreme Court justices yesterday ruled in favour of.

The judgement is being hailed as a landmark as it confirms the right of a former spouse to challenge an earlier settlement.

This decision from the Supreme Court is right and just and will have a profoundly positive effect on many spouses seeking to achieve a fair divorce settlement. Quite often in a marriage one partner oversees their financial affairs and it is therefore vital that the process for disclosure is transparent so that any settlement is based on a true and fair reflection of the matrimonial assets.  It now also raises questions on previous rulings, highlighting that dishonesty in legal proceedings will not be tolerated.

Although the ruling will no doubt open the floodgates for legal claims from aggrieved divorcees who believe they too were short-changed and wish to try and renegotiate historic divorce settlements, it should also act as a deterrent to those thinking about hiding their assets while settling in the courts.  

At FDR we have years of experience in dealing with divorce cases. Whatever your circumstances we are able to give you the expert legal advice you need to protect your assets, receive what is rightfully yours and get on with the rest of your life.

Jennifer Roulston is Partner and specialist in Family Law at FDR Law, based in Stockton Heath, call 01928 739300 or email Jennifer.Roulston@fdrlaw.co.uk

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