The importance of being honest….
19 Nov 2015
The media has recently reported on the outcome of the Supreme Court cases concerning financial disputes in the divorce cases of Mrs Sharland and Mrs Gohill. Although in many ways the cases were quite different factually, the central theme centred on the importance of being open and frank when negotiating settlements for finances in divorce.
The Court confirmed that husbands or wives who fraudulently mislead the Court, and the other party, as to their financial circumstances, will be potentially subject to reopening of settlements made even where those orders were on a ‘clean break’ basis.
The duty of ‘full and frank disclosure’ is one which applies to all parties whether negotiating their settlement through lawyers, at mediation or in collaborative processes, as well as within the arbitration or Court environment. It forms the basis upon which proper negotiations take place and the Court has now reaffirmed that where one party misleads as to their circumstances, with the intention to secure a more favourable result, they can expect repercussions. The Court can set aside arrangements made and can also make orders about payment of legal fees by the party guilty of the deception. Mrs Sharland and Mrs Gohill must now proceed with rehearings of their cases, on the basis of the information as it is now known to be. Whether the outcome will be different from the orders made in their cases, will be a decision for the Courts to make.
The feeling that the other party may not have been completely honest is a common one amongst parties going through a divorce. After all, trust has broken down in most of those situations, and communication is also in difficulty. Legal advice and help to interpret the information that’s available and to help formulate the right questions to ask in those situations can be vital. Just ask us for more information.