A woman has won the right to potentially have her original civil partnership dissolution settlement reassessed. This is because her ex-partner, who is now deceased, allegedly hid assets from the court.
In 2009, Helen Roocroft accepted a settlement of around £200,000 when her civil partnership with property developer Carol Ainscow was dissolved. But after Ms Ainscow’s death in 2013, evidence emerged to suggest she may have misled the court about the true extent of her wealth when the couple separated.
Ms Roocroft is seeking to overturn the original settlement on the grounds that she was misled into accepting a far lower figure than she otherwise would have done had not Ms Ainscow ‘misrepresented her wealth’. The Court of Appeal has ruled that Ms Roocroft has the right to argue for the original settlement to be set aside, and the matter can now go before the High Court.
The case mirrors that of divorcees Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil, who in 2015 won the right to have their divorce settlements reassessed. The judgment in the latest case reaffirms that couples in civil partnerships have the same rights under family law as married couples. It is also the first such case to consider the discovery of non-disclosure of assets after the death of one of the parties.
Gaby Hardwicke Senior Partner David Young commented: “The case reinforces the Sharland and Gohill decisions and serves as a further warning to spouses or civil partners who might be tempted to mislead their ex-partners, and the court. Settlements must always be underpinned by a credible process of financial disclosure and the risk of receiving less than is fair and reasonable is significantly greater if shortcuts are taken.”
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