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Court of Appeal to rule on issue of finances following dissolution of civil partnership

A woman has successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal to have her case for financial remedy against her ex-civil partner considered. Her ex-partner died in 2013 and it came to light after her death that she had hidden assets worth millions of pounds which would otherwise have needed to be considered when the parties were dealing with financial issues following the dissolution of their partnership.

 

The women had been in a relationship for 18 years, entering into a civil partnership in 2008. They separated in 2009.

There were financial proceedings in relation to the dissolution of the partnership, however, during these proceedings Ms A, who had had a large fortune built in the property sector, argued that she had lost a significant amount of her wealth in the property crash following the recession. As Ms R was unable to afford representation she agreed to a settlement of £162,000 in 2010 on the basis of the information supplied by Ms A.

However, after Ms A’s death, in 2013, further information came to light which suggested that Ms R’s personal wealth had not diminished as much as she had claimed. She therefore instructed solicitors (at Irwin Mitchell) and sought to overturn the agreement so that a new agreement could be reached in light of the fuller financial disclosure.

The Court initially concluded that her application had no merit in June 2014. Permission to appeal was then granted in January 2015. This matter is the latest in a line of “material non-disclosure” cases which have reached the Court recently where one party is found to have significantly misled the other as to their personal wealth and this information only came to light after an agreement had been reached.

In similar cases, relating to finances on divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled that divorce settlements can be set aside on the basis that one spouse had been dishonest and deliberately misled both the other spouse and the Court when the settlements were being reached.

Ms Bever, specialist divorce lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, and Solicitor for Ms R said; “This is a landmark case as it involves many complicated issues, but it seems that all too often partners (whether in marriage or civil partnerships) are trying to get out of their obligations by being deliberately obstructive or dishonest about their wealth and assets. There have been many high profile cases over the past few years where the courts have shown they will not tolerate people trying to hide their wealth in businesses or refusing to pay their settlements and maintenance. Last year's judgment in the Supreme Court cases of Sharland and Gohil sent out a clear message that dishonesty will not be tolerated, and this should be no different for civil partnerships.”

The hearing has recently concluded and a judgement will be handed down later in the year.

Samantha Lee, Managing Director and Head of the Family Law Department at Swain & Co Solicitors says; “Finances can always be a very difficult area of the law to deal with by yourself. At Swain & Co we are very experienced in being able to get to the heart of financial matters and ask the difficult financial questions which can need to be asked of both parties. Our expertise is in going through all the information very carefully to ensure that any financial claim is backed up with proof, to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients.”

If you have any queries about financial issues on the breakdown of a relationship, call Swain & Co Solicitors today on 02392 492 967.

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