Ian WalkerTrusts and Divorce

‘Clients whose cases fall into this category [of offshore trusts] do need to be reminded by their advisers that these sophisticated offshore structures are very familiar nowadays to the judiciary who have to try them. They neither impress, intimidate, nor fool anyone. The courts have lived with them for years. If clients “duck and weave” over months or years to avoid coming clean they cannot expect much sympathy when it comes to the question of paying the costs of the enquiry which inevitably follows.’

So said Mr Justice Coleridge in the reported case of J v V (disclosure: offshore corporations).

Indeed, as the use of offshore trusts has become more common – the UK family courts are clear that fuller and franker disclosure of information is required – as ‘otherwise skulduggery is instantly presumed’

Trusts within financial proceedings

The existence of offshore trusts in a divorce will inevitably add to its potential complication.

It is  important to identify these assets at an early stage.

The basic principles of how a case is dealt with are the same. These are to first of all establish the values of assets and how they can be utilised to meet the needs of the parties. Once it is understood how all investments work the negotiation can begin.

Ensuring that there is full financial disclosure

If the value of assets cannot be established or it becomes clear that one party is not being honest and open about their financial circumstances – then the prospects of negotiation without proceedings disappears and the court will need to be asked to order full disclosure.

Working as a team to achieve better outcomes

With complicated cases successful representation of a client means pulling together a team with appropriate skills to ensure that the best outcome can be achieved.

This team would likely include both solicitor and counsel as well as the appropriate finance professionals. Certainly a finance professional will be needed to give the client financial advice so that the client can make the best decisions both from a legal and financial basis.

We are lucky that we have one a very experienced divorce finance team. We also have good relationships with other relevant professionals.