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Jail for lying about finance in divorce

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Jail for lying about finances shows importance of honesty in divorce, Thursfields warns

A man who was jailed after lying about his home’s value during divorce proceedings underlines the importance of full, frank and honest disclosure of financial assets, Thursfields Solicitors has warned.

Anthony Cooke was sent down for seven-and-a-half months after misleading a Isle of Man court by lowering three estate agent valuations for the property and relying on them in sworn evidence.

Experts at the leading Midlands law firm commented on how Cooke’s custodial sentence was “unavoidable” as the courts relied on “honest evidence”.

Jill Roberts, a senior associate in the Family Law department at Thursfields, said: “In this case, a husband altered emails from estate agents to lower the value of properties within financial proceedings, thereby deliberately being dishonest and misleading the court.

“The consequence of this was that he was subsequently sent to prison.

“Although this case relates to the Isle of Man, which has a different legal system than England and Wales, the importance of this remains the same.

“In England and Wales, once divorce proceedings have been initiated, the court has the power to deal with the financial claims arising out of the marriage in respect of parties’ capital, income and pensions.

“The only way that these claims can be ended is by an order of the court, either agreed by consent between the parties or imposed by the court in proceedings. 

“It is important to still obtain this order even if parties do not have any assets to be resolved or have resolved the assets themselves, to ensure no further claims can be made on any current or future assets of the parties. 

“As part of resolving the financial claims between parties, a process of full, frank and honest disclosure needs to be adopted to ensure all assets are fully considered, that both parties are fully aware of these and that the order is subsequently fair. 

“This process can be adopted voluntarily by the parties or, if they are in court proceedings, then this is something the court can order parties to do.

“In this case, the husband did not adopt full, frank and honest disclosure as he altered documents to falsify disclosure to suit his case, thereby misleading the court and the wife.”

Ms Roberts explained that courts in England and Wales do not look favourably upon such dishonesty and said that the consequences of not providing full frank and honest disclosure included:

  • this conduct being taken into account and being discredited as a witness
  • previous orders being dismissed and changed
  • being held in contempt of court for making a false statement, resulting in fines or prison, and
  • if fraud is involved, being subject to criminal proceedings, also resulting in fines or prison. 

Anyone seeking advice on a divorce can contact Ms Roberts on 0345 20 73 72 8 or by e-mailing jroberts@thursfields.co.uk.