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Financial Disclosures

The case of Goddard-Watts and Goddard-Watts has been in the news recently. It is an unusual case as the court has taken the decision to set aside a financial order arising out of a divorce, for a second time, as a result of the husband’s failure to provide full disclosure of his assets.

The first rule when considering a settlement is always to obtain full and frank disclosure. This requires both parties to provide information to the other in respect of their financial circumstances. That obligation is ongoing and continues until the court has finalised any order.  It is not for the individual to decide whether they believe the financial information is relevant.

In the case of Goddard-Watts and Goddard-Watts the husband failed to disclose to the court and to the wife two valuable trusts of which he was a beneficiary.  This resulted in the wife applying to the court to set aside the original order and resulted in the court ordering the husband to pay the wife a further lump sum of £4 million.

Sadly, the husband did not take heed of the continuing obligation to provide disclosure nor that his failure to do so could result in an order being set aside.  Following the wife’s application to set aside the order, the husband failed to disclose that the value of his shareholding had significantly increased.  Once discovered the wife successfully applied, for a second time, to set aside the order and to seek a further increase in her settlement.

The husband’s failure to disclose assets increased his legal costs and significantly delayed matters. It is possible that the husband’s shareholding increased in value during the course of the first application to set aside. In the circumstances had the husband fully complied with his obligation to provide disclosure it may well have resulted in a better overall outcome to him.

It is clear the court is willing to set aside orders where there has been a failure to provide disclosure when appropriate. Failure to provide disclosure therefore carries a risk that any order will be set aside and lack of certainty regarding any outcome.

Should you require any advice on divorce or financial matters please contact Carol Chrisfield on 0117 904 5958 who will be happy to discuss matters with you.

Posted on Apr 28th, 2020 by Lyons Davidson

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