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Non-disclosing husband fails in challenge to Court of Appeal

Date:10 SEP 2019

A husband who failed to disclose all of his assets has failed in his appeal to set aside an order.

Mr Moher appealed a financial remedy order made in May 2018 on the grounds that he should not have to pay periodical payments to his wife until a Jewish Get, the Hebrew word for a divorce document, was granted.

Mr Moher also claimed the judge erred by failing to quantify the extent of the husband’s non-disclosure and the calculation of the lump sum awarded to Mrs Moher was wrong and that the lump sum was far more than she needed.

The Court of Appeal has now dismissed the husband’s grounds of appeal and has ordered Mr Moher to continue periodical payments to Mrs Moher until he grants her a Get.

It was determined that the Court should try to assess the extent of the financial resources of the non-disclosing party but this does not mean the Court must put a specific figure or bracket on the value of the non-disclosed assets, as sometimes this will be impossible.

The Court of Appeal has also made the important confirmation that in Jewish cases the court has jurisdiction to make orders for maintenance payments to wives pending obtaining a Get.

Since a Jewish marriage is entered into by a legal contract between a man and woman, it can only be terminated by a legal document ending that original contract. In Jewish practice, only a rabbinical court can dissolve a marriage between a married couple.

The Court also decided that there was a compelling need for a "clean break" between the parties so that they would be able to make "new lives". This was based on the manner in which the husband had behaved, including that he had been convicted for assault and harassment of the wife.

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The case is a warning for all those who fail to disclose their assets and who try to circumvent the divorce process may end up paying the price, says Alexandra Goldrein: 'In this case Mr Moher tried to get away with not declaring all of his assets to the court, and the Court of Appeal rightly ruled in Mrs Moher’s favour. Our team handled a similar case in Hart v Hart where the husband refused to disclose all of his assets. In that case, he was eventually sent to prison for serious contempt of court, sending a clear message that once made, orders must be complied with. As regards Mr Moher’s non-disclosure in relation to the finances, this case is a further reminder that those who engage in litigation misconduct and who fail to provide full and frank financial disclosure during matrimonial proceedings may ultimately suffer the consequences.  This decision to allow periodical payments to continue until a decree absolute is granted (which will not be granted until a Get is given) provides wives with further protection against recalcitrant men who refuse to provide their wives with a Get, which is vital to ensure the financially weaker party is provided for.