Last week’s recent divorce ruling, as reported by the BBC, saw Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil successfully persuade the Supreme Court that their divorce settlements should be re-examined in light of their husband’s wilful and in Mr Sharland’s case, fraudulent non-disclosure of the value of the matrimonial assets. From the media’s breathless coverage you might be forgiven for thinking that these decisions apply throughout the United Kingdom. They do not. Scots law should not be confused with English law and these decisions stem from specific aspects of English law.
Sadly, the same issue does arise in Scotland and it is not uncommon for the spouse with control of the assets acquired during the marriage to be less than candid and in fact, downright obstructive in providing information which allows the matrimonial property to be valued and then divided. This can be a particular problem if one spouse has been the main earner throughout the marriage and the other has not. What happens in Scotland in these circumstances?
Fortunately, the courts are alive to this problem and will readily grant applications for disclosure by one party, so that the reluctant spouse is ordered by the court to provide the information sought. In addition, if a party has taken steps to mislead or dispose of assets before divorce in an attempt to prevent their spouse obtaining their fair share, that fact can be taken into account and in some circumstances, those steps can be retraced.
The key to being able to prevent or unwind what can be referred to as avoidance transactions is to act quickly and seek expert advice. John Macpherson has a particular expertise in recovering evidence in divorce cases as well as in valuing business assets and pensions. If you would like to have a free no-obligation chat with John about any of these issues or indeed, any aspect of separation and divorce, please email or telephone on 01463 221727.