‘Dishonest’ husband fails to reduce wife’s divorce settlement
A husband who behaved in a “blatantly dishonest” way while giving evidence in court has failed to reduce his wife’s divorce settlement.
The court heard that the couple had married in February 2006 and separated in December 2011. They had three children aged between four and nine. During their marriage they had enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle.
The wife claimed they had matrimonial assets of £54m, including a collection of vintage cars worth £20m. She sought a lump sum settlement of £27m to give her an equal share of those assets.
During the hearing, the husband claimed that he was heavily in debt and faced financial ruin. He described how he had set up an offshore trust in 2002. The trustee was an offshore management company and business was conducted by another company.
This had led to a series of complex financial arrangements, which meant that during the marriage, the couple’s lifestyle had been financed by an overdraft. By May 2012, that overdraft had reached £18m.
The husband said his creditors were now demanding payment and he faced financial ruin. He could not provide his wife with a lump sum of £27m because he simply didn’t have the money.
The court held that the husband’s evidence had to be approached with extreme caution. His position and that of the trustee was an elaborate charade. When the time was ripe, the husband would return to a position where he had access to trust assets to meet his income and capital needs and would be able to support a very affluent lifestyle again.
The case should therefore be adjourned until the husband’s financial position became clearer. Fairness and justice were more important than finding a quick solution. In the meantime, he would be ordered to pay the wife £120,000 per annum.
The judge said the husband had deliberately set about obscuring the true position. He had displayed blatant dishonesty. He should therefore take responsibility for all of the wife's costs of around £334,000.
Please contact Paul Owen or Kirsty Bowers if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of matrimonial law.