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One of the main difficulties for those tasked with imposing settlements on couples who struggle to reach an agreement outside the court process is that many marriages work on the presumption that one party contributes more towards the couple’s financial stability, while the other party takes on more of the domestic burden. Unfortunately sometimes financially stronger spouses may be less than transparent about disclosing the true value and extent of their assets, making it more difficult to arrive at a just decision.

This  trend of  attempting to take advantage of a  partner’s lack of knowledge of the true extent of their assets was addressed by Mr.Justice Moor  in the High Court in London recently

In the case of Young V Young he ruled that “fixer for the super-rich” Scot Young appeared to have hidden around £45 million from the court. The Judge ultimately gave the wife Michelle Young £20 million despite the fact that she told the court she needed enough money to buy a £25 million mansion in London`s exclusive Belgravia. In his ruling Mr Justice Moor said:

“It is undoubtedly the most difficult financial remedy case I have ever came across. This case has been extraordinary even by the standards of the most bitter matrimonial breakdowns. Extremely serious allegations have been bandied around like confetti. In many respects this is about as bad an example of how to litigate as I have encountered.”

Mrs Young had demanded half her husband`s assets claiming that he was worth “a few billion pounds at least” but had hidden away his cash in a series of secret investments. He was alleged to have created a business structure called “Project Marriage Walk” to conceal assets from his wife as their marriage deteriorated. Mr Young told the High Court his wife`s claims were those of a “fantasist” and rejected her accusation that his powerful and wealthy friends were “sheltering” his money.   

Whilst cases involving such vast sums of money may be rare in this jurisdiction, nonetheless it is vital that parties obtain full and complete disclosure of income and assets if they are to stand any chance of a fair and just settlement.  As an additional deterrent to hiding assets  it is worth pointing out that such actions are unlawful and can result in the imposition of a custodial sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment.

Divorce settlements will always involve compromises on both sides and the best decisions are those where no one walks away feeling like they have lost out more than their former other half. Achieving this kind of result needs expert advice and guidance, a pragmatic approach and the avoidance of cost-wasting ‘confetti-like’ allegations. It also requires meticulous preparation and investigation. Our team of specialist family solicitors are experienced in investigating large volumes of complex financial discovery and pursuing fair settlements for our clients.

If you really want a fair settlement then choose the expertise of the Edwards & Co. family and matrimonial team to help you.


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