Recently the Supreme Court delivered two decisions in the cases of Sharland and Gohil which could result in a number of existing financial divorce settlements potentially needing re-examination in the future. These cases featured deliberate non disclosure and misrepresentation at financial disclosure stages in divorce.
This judgement has reinforced the need to be fully open and honest with disclosure. If one party deliberately misleads the other and therefore, the court too, the order can be set aside, even if it comes to light after it was made. The court has made clear, that the only exception is likely to be if it can be shown that the terms of the order would have been made even if the Court and the other party had known of the fraud/non disclosure. The onus will be on the party who committed the wrongdoing to prove that the Order would have been the same in any event.
Essentially, if one party fails to provide full and frank disclosure prior to an order being made and they are later unable to prove that their failure would not have influenced the making of the order regardless, the other party can ask the family court to deal with the matter again, fairly.
Dishonesty is not tolerated in legal proceedings and the Supreme Court has reinforced that principle.
In the interests of saving substantial legal costs and months of contested proceedings, it is in your interests to be open and honest about your financial situation in the first place. The truth will inevitably surface at a later date and as the Supreme Court have shown; the Family Court will simply revisit the case and could well make a new Order which will reflect all of the circumstances in any event.
If you are affected by the decision of the Supreme Court and would like tailored advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact our family solicitor, Nia Thomas on 01267 237441.