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Husband Pays for Lack of Frankness in 'Big Money' Divorce

Those who try to hide their assets from the divorce courts will rarely get away with it and face the risk that their lack of frankness will be uncovered years later. Exactly that happened in one ‘big money’ case in which a husband misled his wife before she agreed to a £7.25 million financial settlement.

The settlement was designed to achieve rough equality between the former husband and wife. However, it subsequently emerged that he had misled her into believing that family trusts worth £4.2 million were primarily for the benefit of their children. He was at the time very hopeful that a business in which he had an interest would be sold and, when it was, the value of the trusts swelled to almost £23 million.

The husband, not his children, was in fact the principal beneficiary of the trusts and, since the divorce, he had received £9 million from them. In those circumstances, a judge found that the impression he gave the wife was plainly wrong and that he had failed in his duty to fully and frankly disclose his assets. Permission was granted to the wife to reopen the financial aspects of the divorce with a view to increasing her award. The facts of the case emerged as the husband was refused permission to appeal against the judge’s ruling by the Court of Appeal.