The Price of Dishonesty: Why It Never Pays to Hide Your Assets

In a stark warning to anyone who may be thinking about hiding assets in order to reduce a post-divorce financial settlement, a multi-millionaire has been ordered to pay a further £6.4 million to his ex-wife, 6 years after their divorce was finalised.

Mr James Goddard-Watts and his ex-wife, Julia, divorced 6 years ago and the parties reached an agreement about how to divide their finances. In their financial settlement, his ex-wife had received a house worth £3.25 million and a lump sum of £4 million.

Subsequently Julia had reason to believe Mr Goddard-Watts had painted a false picture of how much he was worth and had given misleading information in order to reduce the financial “pot” to be divided between them. He had, in fact, set up two trusts in order to conceal part of his wealth.

Julia took the matter back to court and won the right to have the case looked at again, with the court agreeing that her ex-husband had been “evasive and at times misleading” and had “given a false presentation” when making their original agreement.

The Judge was not impressed, and ordered him to pay the ex-wife a further £6.4 million.

Lessons to learn for divorcing couples

Although it may seem like a good idea to try and conceal wealth or assets during a divorce, it is never advisable.

Not only can your ex-spouse potentially find out about your dishonesty in the future and recommence litigation, you also run the risk of being tried for perjury and ultimately being convicted of a crime.

It may make it more difficult to persuade the establishment to look kindly on you if you have attempted to deceive them in the past.

Cunningtons Family Law Department

Cunningtons has a team of expert family law solicitors who can help you deal with a relationship breakdown so that you can move onwards towards a bright future, without having to mislead anyone.

Our experts can also review any financial agreements if you believe, like Julia, that your ex-spouse was not honest.

Call our Family Law team today on 01245 264494


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The Senior Partner at Cunningtons’ Braintree office is David Drake. Paul Fenton is the Joint Managing Partner. He, along with Johanna Withams are the residential conveyancing partners at the Braintree practice. They are supported by qualified Solicitors and Licenced Conveyancers.

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