wo family law cases which hit the Supreme Court in June could have far-reaching implications for divorces in England and Wales. Applicants Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil claim their ex-husbands deliberately misled judges about their wealth, and are pursuing the right to have their settlements revisited in the Supreme Court. The judgments are expected to set a precedent for individuals found to be concealing wealth and assets in divorce proceedings. In both cases, lower courts have already ruled that the respective husbands were dishonest about their financial worth during the original divorce proceedings.
The cases highlight issues around fraud and the concealment of assets during divorce, alongside the very public nature of divorce litigation. In both cases, the original financial proceedings were litigated, potentially putting certain details of the former couples’ financial matters into the public domain. For Mr Sharsland in particular, an eminent businessman and founder of tech company AppSense, such press attention and public scrutiny into his wealth, alongside allegations of dishonesty, must surely be most unwelcome and potentially damaging to his wider reputation.
Certainly, having one’s dirty washing aired in public is not in most people’s wishes, and is particularly undesirable for business people or those with a public reputation to uphold. Collaborative Law requires minimal court intervention with all discussions and negotiations taking place during the course of private meetings, with only the parties and their trained collaborative lawyers present. The process of Collaborative Law therefore allows for a much greater level of privacy than divorce litigation, allowing the separating couple to reach agreements away from the glare of publicity.