JL v SL [2015] High Court of Justice

Written by admin

March 6, 2015

Inheritance during the marriage and assets acquired after separation – and a stark warning to give full and frank disclosure

This case addressed the question of the extent to which both inherited wealth and post-separation accrual should be taken into account in the marital pot, and to what extent they should be shared once in the pot. The case also carries a warning against non disclosure of assets, in breach of that duty to fully and frankly disclose one’s financial position, on an ongoing basis.

The Wife’s inheritance recommended during the marriage was treated by the court as a non-marital asset after a careful examination of the extent to which it had been mingled with marital funds, combined with a consideration of the length of the marriage. In this case, even though the inheritance had to some extent been transferred into the husband’s name, the court found that this was a practical solution to the family situation at the time, rather than actual mingling.

The inheritance was entirely excluded from the marital pot to be distributed.

The husband has acquired shares after separation and those shares had eventually yielded him a very substantial return.  In the event, the court also found these to be non marital, since they were acquired post separation, and also as a result of a job taken post separation.

Once such unmatched contributions are placed within the marital pot, the extent to which they are shared equally will be a matter for the court in seeking to achieve fairness.

Ironically, what the court found to be the husband’s gross non disclosure of these shares resulted in a costs order being made against him to the tune of £85,000, the wife’s total costs to the date of the (first) final hearing. This was in spite of the fact that the court had already found that the shares were a non marital asset.

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