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Women Challenge Unfair Divorce Settlements

Two women are appealing to have their divorce settlements overturned after they claim they were tricked into accepting unfair divorce settlements.

Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil both claim that they were duped into accepting unfair divorce settlements after their husbands allegedly misled judges about how much they earned and how much they were worth.

The landmark case could have much larger implications for divorce proceedings and could lead to numerous people appealing their divorce settlements.

Divorce Cases

Alison Sharland received £10 million for her divorce when she settled believing that she had obtained half of her husband's fortune. However, his worth was significantly more as was his software company. Varsha Gohil settled for £270,000 plus a car from her former husband, but it later became clear following her husband's arrest for fraud and money-laundering sums of up to £37 million that he was worth significantly more.

Ros Bever, the attorney for both women, said courts had turned a "blind eye" to dishonesty in divorce proceedings for too long and that the case had reason to be reopened and negotiated. She said that such a claim could have a lasting impact on the British court system and the way divorces are handled in the UK.

She said: “This is yet another case in which an unfair settlement has been agreed because of one party being dishonest and not sharing all the details of their wealth to the courts.

“Both cases raise serious issues about how the courts should handle cases where information shared with the court and used to agree a divorce settlement is later found to be false or incomplete.”

She added: “Dishonesty in any legal proceedings should not be tolerated. The family court should not be an exception. There are numerous legal arguments to be heard by the Supreme Court, but we hope that ultimately justice will be done and will be seen to be done.”

However, a lawyer for one of the husbands in question said that the settlement they had offered had been fair.

Concealed Assets

It is understood that both men in question has misled their wives and the court about the true value of their property. Alison Sharlands’ husband’s firm has an estimated worth of over £600 million. However, solicitors state that at the time of the divorce this was significantly lower at around £31 million.

Despite the argument, the Court of Appeal ruled that Charles Sharland’s concealment of assets had been deliberate, but two of the three believed they should not overturn the original settlement. According to the court, although his evidence was “seriously misleading” it would not have led to a significantly different outcome. Furthermore, the judges ruled that any evidence in the other case could not be changed due to much of Miss Gohil’s evidence coming from other criminal proceedings against her husband.

Sally Harrison QC, counsel for his former wife, told the court: “Despite these findings, [Varsha Gohil] has no financial remedy to secure a fair distribution of the assets which the parties owned in 2004.

“Throughout the proceedings the husband denied that he had any assets.

"The wife would be deprived of a fair hearing and a fair outcome if the order were to stand.”

The case has divided many in the legal community with many expert solicitors stating that disclosure in divorce cases must be clamped down on.

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