A Frank Overview
In the past we have seen more and more cases when spouses have been accused of hiding assets. We remember the Young case, when Michelle Young was awarded in 2013 £20m after her husband declared in the proceedings that he was penniless and could not afford to pay. In another recent case (Bhura v. Bhura) Mr Justice Mostyn found that the British jeweller was “a dishonest litigant” who “spirited away a large amount of valuable jewellery with the intention of defeating the wife’s claim for a financial remedy”.
With this background and more cases to come, has the Supreme Court with their decision in Gohil and Sharland opened the floodgates?
The background and reasoning of the Judgments can be read on the Supreme Court homepage.
- Gohil Judgment (PDF)
- Sharland Judgment (PDF)
But what does this mean for couples which are splitting up right now or can’t resolve their marital differences?
Full, Frank and Clear
In my view, the judgements show how important it is in this jurisdiction to give “full and frank and clear” financial disclosure, so that the parties and the Court can make a fair decision and judgement. The burden of proof after the judgements in Gohil and Sharland is on the husbands in those cases.
These judgements go to the heart of all fair outcomes when two couples split up and try to dissolve their marital partnership. As Shakespeare says: “No legacy is so rich as honesty”
All Around the World
But we all know that other jurisdictions have other approaches. In Spain for example the burden of proof is with the person who is trying to show that there are undisclosed assets or misleading financial disclosure from the other party within the proceedings. This approach, which supports private autonomy has its problems and is creating huge unfairness. Namely, how can a spouse who was never involved in the financial dealings during the marriage, all of a sudden be responsible for showing what the real family wealth is? Are these countries saying that the real equality in marriages includes an equal involvement in all financial aspects of the marital partnership?
The Gohil and Sharland decision goes also to the heart of the principals of English Family Law. As Jackson Brown Jr says, “sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye”.
So going back to my original question, what would Shakespeare say? I think the answer is obvious – “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool”.
About Paradigm Family Law
- No other firm in the UK offers Fixed Fee for Divorce and Financial Settlements from the outset.
- This was recently recognised and Paradigm Family Law has been shortlisted for the Modern Law Awards 2015 for the “New Entrant“ category which recognises those firms which can demonstrate exceptional enterprise and significant influence upon Family Law.
For more details or if you would like representation in financial or divorce proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email us to [email protected].