Eleanor was devastated when her husband of 30 years told her that he wanted a divorce. As a stay-at-home mum of four now adult children, she had been devoted to the home and family management as well as organising the inevitable social life which came with her husband Dan’s successful business. She did not need to think about finance-the joint account for family spend was topped up by Dan regularly and she trusted him implicitly.
But then he wanted a divorce and made it clear that he did not accept that she should have half of the assets acquired during the marriage, no matter what the law might say. He even refused to produce any documents clarifying their wealth, instead sending a spreadsheet with the comment “This is all you need to know”.
He made an offer of £1,000,000 cash, and at the same time reduced the funds going into the joint account to the bare minimum to pay committed outgoings and food.
However, a quick look at Companies House records established that Dan’s business made £500,000 after tax last year, and according to Zoopla the family home itself was worth over £2,000,000, with no mortgage recorded at the Land Registry. Eleanor knew that there were also pensions and offshore investments, though she had no details.
The £1000,000 looked like a lot, but it would not start to provide the lifestyle she was used to, nor could it possibly be an equal share of the assets acquired during the marriage.
But how could she challenge Dan in court without money to fund lawyers of her own? They tried mediation but he refused to bring documentation and regretfully the mediator had to advise that this would have to go through court.
Eleanor made an appointment for a first free phone call with a specialist family lawyer and was hugely relieved to be told:-
- That litigation finance would be likely to be available in her case particularly as the family home was in joint names.
- Once clear and comprehensive disclosure had been achieved through the court procedure, most cases settled at or around the second hearing called the Financial Dispute Resolution without the need to go to trial.
Empowered by this advice, she instructed the solicitor, who helped her obtain a litigation finance loan to fund her costs, and succeeded in enforcing full disclosure from Dan in the court proceedings. As a businessman, Dan was well used to applying cost/price analysis, and his lawyers advised him that comprehensive disclosure would be essential or he could face punitive costs orders or even an order giving his wife most or all the assets revealed. Therefore, he made a reasonable offer, which with a little negotiation, was agreed upon and resulted in an order by consent. This was dealt with on paper by the court without the trauma or expense of a trial.
Eleanor was delighted, and much richer, as a result of the litigation finance loan and clear and encouraging advice from her lawyer.