pension offsetting on divorce

15/10/2015

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that divorce settlements can now be re-opened where a spouse believes the other spouse previously misled the Court about the true value of his or her assets. 

Alison Sharland (48) and Varsha Gohil (50) both received large financial settlements from their wealthy husbands in divorce proceedings some years ago.

Alison Sharland received £10.3million, believing it to be half of her husband’s assets, based on the alleged share value of his Manchester software company.  She later discovered it was worth much more. 

Varsha Gohil settled her divorce claim in 2004 for £270,000 plus a car from her husband, who was later convicted and jailed for fraud and money laundering offences of up to £37million.  She alleged he had misled her and the Court as to the true value of his assets at the time of the divorce settlement. 

Both women appealed to the Supreme Court against their original settlements and were seeking a ruling that deception and non-disclosure of financial assets should entitle them to have their cases reviewed.

The Supreme Court agreed that both cases should be re-opened and re-assessed which means that yesterday’s decision allows both women to have their financial claims considered again, which could entitle them both to significantly greater financial settlements. 

This is a moral victory and a good and fair outcome for both claimants and will undoubtedly lead to other cases being re-opened.  It is a salutary lesson for people, who hold the financial “cards”,that their deception might catch up with them later.

This ruling upholds the basic principle that divorcing couples must give “full and frank disclosure” of their assets and wealth when negotiating a financial settlement, or in Court proceedings.   

The risk for any dishonest wealthy person in a divorce situation is that if (or when!) it comes to light that they have concealed the true extent of their assets the case is re-opened and the other party gets a much larger settlement. 

So the warning is clear, wealthy or not, you must be honest and upfront regarding your financial position in order to achieve a watertight and ‘final’ financial settlement. 

Our family law team at Beswicks can be contacted directly for guidance or further information on ‘clean breaks’ in financial divorce settlements. Call 01782 205000 or email enquiry@beswicks.com