Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Mums go to the Supreme Court after their ex-husbands hide a fortune
Two divorced women, both mothers-of-three, have joined forces to bring their former husbands to task, claiming they deliberately hid their true wealth.
In the lower courts of appeal for both cases, it has since emerged that the men lied about their wealth, but they have so far not been ordered to pay any more money back as a result.
Were this to be overturned during a hearing at London’s Supreme Court next month, a new precedent would be established which would expose parties who try to hide their wealth from former spouses and force them to hand over more.
Mother-of-three Varsha Gohil accepted £270,000 but says her ex-husband allegedly did not disclose the sum of £35million.
Mrs Gohil, 50, accepted the cash and the family Peugeot from solicitor Bhadresh Gohil, also 50, in 2004 after divorcing him for alleged adultery and unreasonable behaviour.
But she later learnt he was wealthy. In 2010 he was jailed for ten years for money laundering after a court heard he helped a Nigerian politician steal £50million from the oil-rich region he governed.
In 2012, a High Court judge ruled that Mr Gohil had failed to disclose his financial circumstances, and ordered that the divorce settlement be scrapped. But Mr Gohil’s lawyers went to the Court of Appeal, which ruled in his favour. Lord Justice McFarlane said it was “simply not open to the court” to decide in 2012 about an issue discussed in 2004.
He also added that if Mr Gohil’s fortune was ill-gotten, then she had no claim to it. However, his wife has now won the right for the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter.
Meanwhile, Alison Sharland is contesting her £10.3million payout because ex–husband Charles deceived her about the value of his computer software business.
Mother-of-three Mrs Sharland, 48, and her 54-year-old ex–husband married in 1993 and built a fortune based on his company AppSense before separating in 2010. His accountants valued his shares at £7million, while his wife’s team put the value at £32million.
They compromised, and she accepted 30 per cent of the value of his shares, believing the agreement granted her half the couple’s assets. But it later emerged that the company was valued at up to $1billion, making his stake worth £150million.
A High Court judge said Mr Sharland’s evidence had been ‘seriously misleading’ but concluded it did not make any difference to the divorce settlement. The Court of Appeal said the same.
She now hopes the Supreme Court takes a different view when the hearing, which will consider both cases, starts on June 8.
At Royds, our experienced family law department are able to advise on issues such as these and on a range of family matters, including divorce proceedings. For more information, please visit our website or contact Patrick Hart.
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