Here for you: Please note that Brookman’s services remain uninterrupted during this time. Read more

What Happens If My Partner Doesn’t Disclose All Assets During Divorce?

Date: February 10th, 2020 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

 

Disclosure of assets is fundamental to financial remedy proceedings. How can the court decide on the correct settlement if it only has half the picture? The law is clear: you have a duty to give a full, frank and clear disclosure of all your financial and other relevant circumstances. What happens if you don’t?

The consequences of hiding assets can be severe: Whatever settlement was reached without full disclosure may be set aside and if an individual is found to have been deliberately untruthful there may be criminal liability for fraud. A recent Court of Appeal case, Moher v Moher shows just how the courts deal with non-disclosure in practice – unsurprisingly the husband who failed to disclose the extent of his wealth did not come out of proceedings well.

 

The Court Won’t Act As A ‘Cheat’s Charter’

In Moher the husband appealed a decision of a High Court judge to award his wife a lump sum of £1.4million. He argued that the award was defective because there had been no accurate evaluation of his wealth. The husband took his appeal in the knowledge that the lower court had found that he had comprehensively failed to comply with his obligation to give disclosure of his financial resources.

Mr Moher believed that, in the absence of evidence of his wealth (albeit resulting from his own failure to provide that evidence) the court should not have made the order it did.

Dismissing the husband’s case, the Court of Appeal sent out a clear and striking message: where there is obvious non-disclosure judges will make sure that the non-disclosing party doesn’t end up with a more favourable settlement than he or she would have done if they had complied with their disclosure obligations.

It was highlighted that if the court didn’t take steps to prevent a non-disclosing spouse benefitting from their lack of candour, it would in effect be enabling a ‘cheat’s charter’.

Of course the courts should try to make some kind of assessment of a non-disclosing spouse’s wealth. But the point is that if a lack of evidence caused by non-disclosure renders that impossible, the court can instead infer that resources are such that the proposed award does represent a fair outcome. In Moher the award of £1.4million was appropriate to rehouse the wife on the basis of the assets available. There were other factors at play too that perhaps influenced the judges in their decision making process: Mr Moher had been convicted of assaulting his wife and there was evidence that Mrs Moher was afraid of him. Mr Moher also appears to have tried to frustrate the sale of the family home. All of this meant there was a pressing need for Mrs Moher to be able to live independently in a new home.

 

Comment

A YouGov survey from a few years back suggested as many as a third of us would hide assets during divorce if we could get away with it. Recent cases like Moher demonstrate however that there’s a lot at stake for those who are thinking of being less than frank about their wealth during divorce.

The Moher case also suggests there’s little to be gained from arguing against a decision that has made a non-disclosing spouse less well-off than if he or she had been more transparent in the first place. It’s worth remembering that family court judges have unrivalled experience in cases of non-disclosure. If a lack of transparency by one spouse means it’s impossible for judges to make an accurate calculation of wealth, they have a wide discretion and are astute enough to figure out what is likely to have been concealed – and to draw their own conclusions about the extent of an individual’s wealth.

 

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss financial disclosure or have other questions about your divorce please call us for further advice on 44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us here.

Share:

Google Reviews

Brookman Solicitors

91 Reviews

Joanne Chidwick 09/11/2020

I wanted to send a deeply personal thank you to Henry & the team at Brookman’s who have helped me through a very difficult time in my life. They have given me a truly personalised service & been incredibly sympathetic and supportive all the way through the process. I cannot thank them enough & would not hesitate in recommending them to others.

Karuppiah CT 18/10/2020

Mr Brookman was very thorough, professional and spot on. He understood my requirements, the complexities of the case and has dealt with it superbly. I'm very pleased with the service provided. Thanks very much.

Mohamed Ashraf Rashid 16/09/2020

Divorce is not very easy and sometimes one doesn't know what to do but when you have the right people dealing with the matter than it makes it easier.

I was recommended to Henry and initially I was hesitant to use a lawyer for my divorce matter purely because of the costs but in certain circumstances, it is better to go for it. It may seem costly but one doesn't have a choice.

The initial appt gives one an opportunity to hear the lawyer out and then to ask questions relevant to one's case.

The service was great - Thank you

Yesima Hamid 04/09/2020

I want to highly commend Brookman Solicitors firm. I had the privilege of getting very thorough and sensible advice from their solicitor Jennifer Douglas. I don't have enough praise for her. She made me feel at ease and 'got me' and understood very well all the issues and her advice was on point. I felt she had my interest at heart in all the different matters. She was very accommodating and willing. She truly made a difference. She has great insight and I truly recommend her and the firm. They are very professional with the human touch.

Roohie Mahajan 16/08/2020

I am so happy that I hired their services. I am from India and it was my international divorce case. My ex husband is in the UK. I had a free telephone conversation with Henry Brookman and I was so satisfied that without even meeting him I was so confident. My case was handled in the best way possible.

He is probably the one of the best lawyers in the world. He is extremely competent, professional, intelligent and empathetic. The only lawyer who genuinely work to help you rather than making money. He is a very experienced lawyer and he saved me so much money. He is so calm and kind towards his approach. He is the most genuine person I have come across.

I just came to London once to attend my hearing. My husband and his solicitors made it so complicated. My ex husband has to spend double the amount of legal fees than me. This is the difference between hiring a good experienced lawyer. Their fees might be expensive but good lawyer will make you save money at the end. Finally at the end I won the case and my husband has to pay all my legal fees without me travelling to the UK. I will always be eternally grateful to Henry Brookman and Brookman Solicitors. I am falling short of words to praise them.

I highly recommend their services. Keep up the good work.