As family law specialists, we would always advise clients involved in divorce proceedings to keep a level head, look for a fair settlement and to secure a Clean Break Order to draw a line under the settlement once and for all. In short, be sensible, fair and final.
If an individual really does not agree with a settlement, there are routes available to challenge it, but this can be costly and draw out a painful process even longer. However, there are cases where this appears to be the only course of action. If a person feels they have not been dealt a fair hand, they can appeal.
There was a case reported last week though that got me thinking about whether my view about sensible, fair and final is just too simplistic.
Victoria Jones, ex-wife of oil technology millionaire Gareth, went to the Court of Appeal and successfully got the settlement awarded to her revised upward. It went from £5 million to £8 million. She argued it was unfair that she had got just 20% of the marriage assets and thought she deserved more. The Court of Appeal assessed the assets generated during the marriage as £16 million and subsequently she got half. You can read about it here, where how the value of the assets was calculated is explained.
The original ruling was overturned amongst suggestions that Mr Jones had tried to hide the true extent of his wealth. If that is the case, then it was certainly right to revisit the case. No one should get away with doing that.
In a case like this the sums involved are so high most people can’t really relate to them and yet the message is clear – both parties in a divorce must make full and frank disclosure of their assets.
Whether it’s right that someone who had already been awarded £5million, and I understand is already independently wealthy, deserves a 50/50 split I’m not so sure. But when a case like this is reported to have cost the parties £1.7million before it even reached the Court of Appeal I think some sense needs to be employed by both parties, and the Courts.