Divorcees challenge ‘non-disclosure’ settlements

Two women who accepted divorce settlements, based on false information provided by their ex-husbands, have been asking the Supreme Court to overturn their court orders.

In a three-day hearing that began on 8 June, Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil asked for their divorce settlements to be set aside on the basis that their husbands had deliberately misled them and the courts during the original hearings.

Ms Sharland agreed what she believed to be a 50/50 split in her divorce settlement after 17 years of marriage, but it later emerged that  her ex-husband Charles had misled her and the courts over the value of his business and his plans for a future IPO flotation. Instead of the business being valued at between £31million and £47 million, his Appsense business was reported in the financial press as being ready to float at a value of $1 billion.

In 2004, two years after her divorce, Ms Gohil found out that her husband Bhadresh had not fully disclosed his finances during their divorce, leading her to accept £270,000 and a car as a settlement. He was convicted of fraud offences and jailed for ten years in 2010 and during the course the criminal trial, further evidence of the extent of his intentional non-disclosure in the original divorce proceedings emerged.

Surjit Verdi, a solicitor in Palmers’ Family Law team,  said: “There will be a great deal of interest in the Supreme Court ruling in these cases, which could have far-reaching implications for other divorces and financial settlements.

“Recent research found that a quarter of those questioned in a survey hid financial assets during a divorce – the equivalent of around 30,000 people in the UK – even though couples are legally obliged to fully reveal financial information during a divorce and failure to do so could ultimately lead to imprisonment for contempt of court.

“In reaching a financial settlement initially, or pursuing a potential claim to review it at a later stage, expert legal advice can be crucial. The non-confrontational approach advocated by family law body Resolution, of which our family law specialists are members, can make a real difference in helping divorcing couples to negotiate settlements in a constructive way that avoids the time and expense of going to court. For more information, please contact our Family Law team.