I have a friend who has just found out (6 weeks ago) his Wife has been cheating on him and she now wants a divorce. She has turned very nasty very quickly and will now only talk through solicitors. He has a share in a business. Over the years they have acquired a couple of buy-to-let properties as well as the family home. I'm pretty sure there are mortgages on everything. He has tried to discuss settlement with her to which her response is "I'm going for the lot." I can get more financial details if someone thinks they're important.
Simply question... We all know she isn't going to get the lot but what can he do to avoid a lengthy and expensive legal battle? Should he just go directly to court or is there another route he can go down?
If the finances are complex it will take a bit of work to unravel and a specialist solicitor would be best placed to do that.
The easiest way to approach this is to be completely upfront about finances. Your friend should get details of the assets and liabilities and up to date paperwork so that the solicitors for his wife can access this freely.
The business valuation is more difficult depending upon what sort of business it is, how many people are involved in the business, the state of the assets, liabilities and turnover etc.
As for what to do next, it is possible to go straight to the Court subject to being referred to mediation but it is worthwhile both parties disclosing all financial information initially to see if there is a deal to be done. Legal proceedings cost a lot of money and an agreement is significantly less expensive than a trial.
Thanks Charles, appreciate your reply. Any ideas on an application for costs? If her demands are unreasonable, resulting in high legal costs, which they will be because every time there's a business involved forensic accountants are involved. So they go all the way to court for a Judge to make a decision. If her demands were unrealistic purely to cause as much hurt as possible, do you think he can make an application for his legal costs to be covered by her?
In civil proceedings there is a principle that costs follow the event. This means that the winner will usually be able to recover some of their costs from the loser.
That principle is mostly disapplied in family proceedings as it is deemed unhelpful to define winners and losers and, more importantly, the parties are a single financial unit until those finances are separated by an order.
It is perfectly acceptable for there to be a forensic accountant's report to value a business if the valuation cannot be agreed or is apparent due to the complexities of the company structure. Only when the assets have been valued is it then possible to determine what is a fair distribution of assets.
It is possible to obtain a costs order against a party but only when they have been unreasonable such as when they fail to accept an open offer which is then deemed to be reasonable at a later date.
However, disclosure must first be completed in order to determine whether an open offer is reasonable or not. Even if it is deemed to be reasonable it will only be costs from the date of the offer that are up for grabs.
Unfortunately the Court has a very wide discretion when awarding costs and seldom awards them, not least because there is a financial settlement between the parties and the Court often puts all liability for legal costs into the matrimonial pot then divides what is left.
Hi Charles, I've been reading through some of your responses, you are clearly very well informed on each subject. I presume you're either a solicitor or a barrister? I hope you don't mind me asking.