What can I do if my Spouse Lies About Assets?

One of the worries for either spouse in divorce proceedings is that the other party won’t fully disclose the entirety of their assets.

Disclosure – or the lack of it – has prompted Helen Roocroft to fight to re-open her financial claims against her former partner’s estate.
Miss Roocroft claims Carol Ann Ainscow, who died in 2013, misled her about her wealth. She said she was worth £750,000 when the figure was closer to £6million. Business accounts for the year ending 2010 showed that the property company of which Miss Ainscow was the sole shareholder, held funds of £5.5milion.

Miss Roocroft agreed to a settlement of £162,000 based on the information she was given. She would not have agreed to such a modest settlement had she been armed with all the facts.
Miss Roocroft applied to re-open her claim last year but her case was dismissed. Lady Justice Black has now granted permission for an appeal saying:

“It is arguable, in my view, that the judge's approach to Miss Roocroft's agreement was wrong… It was Miss Ainscow's duty to make full and fair disclosure, not only so Miss Roocroft could evaluate her claim and decide upon how to proceed with it, but also so the court could exercise its discretion. The judge must have proceeded on the basis that she had much more modest means than Miss Roocroft thought.”
Lady Justice Black has recognised that the issue of disclosure will be prominent this year saying the outcome of this case could well hinge on the results of two other divorce disputes – those of Alison and Charles Sharland and Varsha and Bhadresh Gohil - which are due to be decided at the Supreme Court later this year.

Please click here to read my earlier blog about Mr and Mrs Sharland’s case.
Alex Davies is the head of family law at Cripps of Kent and London. You can view his profile at http://www.cripps.co.uk/profile/alex-davies/ or contact him on +44 (0)1892 506326. Emma Clements is a trainee solicitor in the family team at Cripps. You can view her profile at http://www.cripps.co.uk/profile/emma-clements/