(Family Division, Moor J, 16 January 2013)
In financial proceedings following divorce the husband contended that he was penniless while the wife claimed he had hidden his entire resources and was in fact a very wealthy man, with assets in the region of £400m. The wife issued a committal summons three and a half years ago when the husband failed to provide a response to her questionnaire and when he did it was insufficient. The husband was committed to prison for contempt of court for 6 months, suspended for 92 days to enable him to respond fully.
The husband failed to comply and claimed he had been detained under the Mental Health Act 1982 and therefore he was given additional time to respond. Eventually the husband provided a number of documents and an order for maintenance pending suit was made requiring the husband to pay the wife's rent, the children's school fees as well as monthly maintenance of £27,500. The husband did not appeal but had failed to pay and arrears now stood at approximately £1m.
When the matter returned to court the husband was required to produce documentation to explain how he had financed his lifestyle in the previous 4 years. He claimed to have been financially assisted by friends but produced no evidence demonstrating where the money had come from. There was no evidence that he had even tried to obtain evidence of the origin of the money and there was no doubt that he had deliberately failed to comply with the order. He had also failed to provide evidence supporting his claim of significant financial losses.
The husband was sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment on the basis that he had been given ample opportunity to comply with the court orders and had failed to do so.