It is a sad fact that divorcing couples frequently try to hide assets from each other, but such manoeuvrings rarely succeed and can have very unfortunate consequences. In one recent case, a husband’s dishonest attempt to evade his commitments to his ex-wife and children ended up depleting most of the former couple’s combined wealth.
The husband, a finance professional, claimed to be mired in debt as a result of his involvement in a housing development scheme that went horribly wrong. On the basis that she had pursued a ‘fruitless search for a pot of gold that clearly was not there’, he blamed his ex-wife for the £750,000 in legal costs that they had run up between them in the divorce proceedings.
However, in ruling on the dispute, a judge found that he could place no reliance on anything that the husband said. Lying repeatedly, he had put his own interests and those of his wider family before those of his ex-wife and his overriding obligation to provide for his two young children.
It was not open to the judge to make financial orders which would have the effect of punishing the husband for his deceit. However, even after legal costs were paid, the judge found that the husband was capable of raising the funds necessary to meet the reasonable needs of his ex-wife and children. He was, amongst other things, ordered to pay his ex-wife a lump sum of £500,000.