What impact does the decision in Sharland and Gohil have on divorce cases?
The recent judgments in these cases send a clear message to those of you embroiled in matrimonial proceedings that financial disclosure must be full, frank and honest and if its not then there is a danger that your ex could revert the matter back to court following any final settlement and ask the court to decide the matter on the basis on your ‘true’ financial position.
In the cases of Sharland and Gohil, both Mr Sharland and Mr Gohil failed to give the court full, frank and honest disclosure of their finances. In Mr Sharland’s case, he failed to inform the court and his ex that his company was about to be floated on the stock market. He was judged to have been ‘deliberately dishonest’. In the case of Mr Gohil, his true financial position was only discovered after criminal proceedings for money laundering had concluded. He portrayed a very different picture of his finances within his matrimonial proceedings, which took place prior to his criminal proceedings.
In both cases, the court decided that the ex-wives were both entitled to have their cases re-heard so that the court could consider the true financial position of their ex-spouses and decide how the ‘matrimonial pot’ should have been distributed between them, now that they had a better idea of what that pot consisted of. The court cannot reach a fair decision in matrimonial proceedings, if they do not know the true financial position of both of the parties and in particular what assets and income they each have and what the ‘matrimonial pot’ consists of.
However, despite the court making clear the seriousness of its view about fraudulent non-disclosure in both Sharland and Gohil, the mere finding of fraudulent non-disclosure on the part of your ex is not enough to cause an automatic set aside of a court-approved final agreement/order in matrimonial proceedings.