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Family Law Blog - Dishonest Spouses Brought-to-Book

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Dishonest spouses brought-to-book following Supreme Court divorce ruling which is set to impact Surrey families.

A landmark Supreme Court decision on 12 June sets out under what circumstances business assets will be within the reach of the Family Courts when deciding on the division of marital assets upon divorce.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the estranged wife of a Nigerian oil tycoon in a case that could have implications for other divorcing couples who have assets tied up in companies. The case is relevant in Surrey where the number of divorces is amongst the highest in the country, and many of those couples have their own businesses.

During divorce proceedings it is necessary to ascertain the value of marital assets and decide on the most appropriate way to allocate those assets between the separating couple.

In this case Michael Prest, had argued, through his lawyers, that seven properties at the centre of the dispute were not owned by him personally, but by offshore companies, and as such they were out of reach of the family courts and could constitute part of the settlement

In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court ruled that the seven properties were in fact “held on trust” for Mr Prest and could be sold to settle his estranged wife’s award. The decision is seen as a victory for family courts over people seeking to avoid their financial responsibilities to their spouse and any children.

Although in this case the assets involved were worth many millions, the impact of the decision will trickle down to separating couples with more modest “everyday” assets.

In this case the husband was particularly evasive which did not go down well with the judges

TWM family lawyer Demelza Patricio said: - “This decision is a victory for the fair sharing of assets. When couples separate, one or both of them may try to avoid disclosing their assets fully at the outset. A lot of time and money can be spent trying to get a transparent picture. Hopefully, this judgement will discourage such evasive behaviour”.

For further details or information, contact Demelza Patricio