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The Lifestyle To Which One Has Become Accustomed – 20 May 2013

Member: Nifa

Although the Office for National Statistics says that the divorce rate is the lowest it has been since 1977, in 2011, which is the most recent year it has statistics on, 10.8 marriages in 1,000 still ended in divorce and the landmark White v White case means that women need a champion when it comes to the settlement. Before the House of Lords’ ruling on White v White in 2000, the major point of a financial settlement was to enable a wife to maintain her lifestyle, usually through a lump sum payment by her husband.  However, their case confirmed that the division of assets gained during a marriage, including businesses and controlling interests in companies, should not be gender-biased, which could lead to some interesting outcomes if the wife in 2013 decides not to employ a forensic accountant. 

The Lords’ ruling means that the contribution of a wife who is not in paid employment could be given equal status to the value of her husband’s business assets, and in many cases this will amount to a wife receiving far in excess of any money offered before 2000 – if she can prove ‘reasonable needs’.  However, it isn’t just women within divorces who can come off badly if they are not careful; both parties can, which is why it is advisable to make use of a forensic accountant to build a case and ensure that a fair deal is achieved.

The forensic accountant will firstly value any business assets to determine whether or not the parties involved are painting an accurate picture of their finances, before following bank accounts and money transfers to check whether assets are being disposed of.  In addition, during the process a forensic accountant will amass evidence about the couple’s lifestyle together, leaving no expense, from store cards to gym membership out and will piece together an accurate picture of the standard of living enjoyed by the wife in order to get a fair settlement.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 20 May 2013

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