Case studies

The following case studies represent some that are of particular interest.

Routine assignments, which often involve the preparation of Form E and the scrutiny and challenge of the spouse’s Form E, are not summarised here.

Example 1

Who we advised Mrs S – Wife – mother of 3 young children, working part-time.
Key thrust To challenge the husband’s low business valuation and low earnings.
Size of pot c. £600,000
Issues Our client was particularly concerned with getting a home for herself and the children and receiving on-going spousal maintenance. Her solicitor had approached us 6 weeks before the final hearing.
Case outline The Husband ran his earnings firstly through a one-man company, then another. In so doing he appeared to be depressing his earnings with a disastrous impact on the calculation for both child and spousal maintenance. We produced a report on what we considered to be the Husband’s true earnings and, at the same time, produced another report to demonstrate the client’s earnings from all sources.
Result The judge referred extensively to our report and was highly critical of the Husband’s approach. The case settled in her favour.I met Nick just before my final hearing – for the future security of myself and the children, I needed to be absolutely certain of my husband’s financial position, which was complicated. Nick went through the finances with a fine tooth comb, explaining everything clearly, simply and calmly and extracted information which I knew was there, but no one else, including my solicitor, had been able to find. It made perfect sense, that while my solicitor focused on the legal side of the case, Nick worked on extracting an accurate financial picture. Nick and my solicitor made a formidable team and having that support behind me, really helped in what, for me, was an exhausting and stressful time. I would recommend Nick to anyone going through a divorce – Nick is able to quickly ascertain an accurate picture of both party’s financial position and having this unbiased, factual evidence helps to take the emotion out of what is a naturally emotive time. He kept me regularly informed about what was happening – as soon as I was introduced I felt in control of the financial side from that moment on.

Example 2

Who we advised Mr C – Husband – successful businessman
Key thrust To determine and then defend a lower, but reasonable, value for our client’s business.
Size of pot c. £1m
Issues Our client and the Wife were seeking to settle using Collaborative Family Law. The main family asset was our client’s 50% shareholding in an established company, whose results were inconsistent.
Case outline We completed our client’s Form E. We carefully examined the company’s results and prospects and produced a detailed report which concluded with an indicative valuation for the client’s shareholding. The valuation was tabled and discussed. We produced a revised valuation when later financial accounts were available.
Result Our valuation was accepted by all parties as a fair position. The client was very happy with the outcome and settled at a much lower figure than he had feared.

Example 3

Who we advised Mrs R – Wife of businessman
Key thrust To challenge the husband’s business valuation
Size of pot £1m – £2m assets
Issues All round financial chaos. Undervalued properties, family company, spurious corporate liabilities, mingling of business and personal finance. Husband had made very low offer to settle. Solicitor was struggling with the financial aspects of the case.
Case outline The client was bewildered by many of the financial aspects which were critical to the outcome of the divorce, in particular the speculative property valuations – some of which were included as part of the business and another overseas. Our role was to clarify what was really in the matrimonial pot and re-set the client’s expectations at a much higher level as to what her share should be. The initial review focused on identifying and listing all the matrimonial assets and re-evaluating their likely true worth. As a result it was clear that the assets were materially misstated.
Result After a short report the case proceeded swiftly to settlement which resulted in a £300,000 better outcome than had been envisaged. Client delighted.

Example 4

Who we advised Mrs C – Wife of businessman who owned 50% with wife of family company
Key thrust To challenge the husband’s business valuation
Size of pot £2m – £3m
Issues Family company run by Husband like a private piggy bank. Undervalued properties and inappropriate transfers of assets to members of Husband’s family. Company was seriously undervalued. Recent inheritance.
Case outline We unravelled the asset transfers and ascertained beyond reasonable doubt the true property assets of the marriage. We visited the company to ascertain the level of personal expenditure being booked as business expenditure and established a truer level of profitability and hence value. We successfully challenged the independent expert valuation.
Result Case went to FDR and the judge, upon hearing the arguments, decided for the Wife on all issues of significance. A much improved offer was made and accepted.

Example 5

Who we advised Mrs C – Ex-Wife of businessman
Key thrust To challenge the husband’s assertion of his business earnings.
Size of pot N/A This was a case for a variation of spousal maintenance, particularly with reference to paying school fees.
Issues The Husband claimed low income but his lifestyle suggested otherwise. Husband ran a business with an off-shore holding company. Property assets were seemingly used by the Husband, but owned by others.
Case outline We trawled company data, the internet and property databases to ascertain the likely true situation. We formulated a detailed and highly probing questionnaire for the Husband to answer in full.
Result Case was settled upon receipt of the questionnaire. Rather than make any disclosures the Husband instead agreed to the requested revised maintenance and to pay school fees going forward.

Example 6

Who we advised Mrs B – Wife – successful business-woman in her own right
Key thrust To determine and then defend a lower, but reasonable, value for our client’s business.
Size of pot £1m – £2m
Issues The Husband ascribed a high value to the Wife’s shareholding in the rapidly growing and profitable company that she had set up with two partners.
Case outline We completed our client’s Form E. We carefully examined the company’s results and prospects and produced a detailed report which concluded with an indicative valuation for the client’s shareholding. The valuation was challenged and an independent valuation was conducted. We worked with the other company directors and ensured that all the salient factors were properly explained.
Result The independent valuer considered our report whilst determining his independent valuation. The result was a value very close to ours and was eventually accepted by the Husband. We then helped the client evaluate various offers and counter-offers. The case settled, with the company value approximately half of the amount originally claimed by the husband.

Example 7

Who we advised Mr T – Husband – self-employed businessman
Key thrust To determine and then defend a lower, but reasonable, value for our client’s business.
Size of asset pot c. £1m
Issues The main family asset was our client’s shareholding in a one-man company through which he carried out his consulting business. There was a complex off-shore arrangement set-up to help manage the tax.
Case outline We completed our client’s Form E. We carefully examined the company’s results and our client’s income from the business. We produced a detailed report which concluded with an indicative valuation for the client’s shareholding. There was significant initial push-back from the other side on the valuation and we had to respond carefully to a number of detailed financial enquiries with respect to the tax arrangements.
Result The valuation was eventually accepted by all parties. The client was very happy with the outcome and settled at a much lower figure than he feared.“Being served divorce papers came as a complete surprise to me, a bolt out of the blue. My initial meeting with my solicitor outlined a bleak forecast, but she was doing her job and advising me on the law; pension share, property share, limited company share, maintenance, as well as a share of other assets. Nick was different, he guided me through the financial situation and the law, identifying where savings could be made and through full disclosure and auditable accounting how the situation could best be presented and protect valuable assets. After our initial meeting, the preparation of the Form E was meticulous and jointly completed, a process through which Nick took the lead role. Through Nick’s financial preparation and my solicitor’s tenacity the result was more favourable than most, if not all, had suggested was possible. There are many solicitors who are self proclaimed specialists in family law, employ the best you can afford. There are very few specialist accountants working in the divorce area, I can recommend Nick as a talented advisor who provided me with great support, boosted my confidence and was instrumental in obtaining a favourable financial resolution.”

Example 8

Who we advised Mrs G – Ex-Wife of FTSE company director.
Key thrust To disprove the husband’s assertion of his business earnings and hence make the case for sensible maintenance.
Size of pot N/A This was a case for a variation of spousal maintenance.
Issues The Husband claimed a relatively modest level of income but his disclosures were hard to reconcile to the publicly available accounts. The remuneration package was complex with large pension contributions, bonuses and stock-based compensation.
Case outline We carefully examined the company data and evaluated all the items within the Husband’s remuneration package. We produced a detailed report which accounted for all elements of pay and income.
Result Using our report, the barrister successfully argued the Husband’s income comprised much more than the basic remuneration and that the other elements of pay were substantial and relevant to the case. The additional maintenance was capitalised and a lump sum payment of several hundred thousand pounds settled the case.

Example 9

Who we advised Mrs F – Wife bringing up 2 young children.
Key thrust To demonstrate husband’s high earnings and pension and to ring-fence our client’s inherited assets.
Size of pot £1m – £2m
Issues The main family assets were the couple’s former matrimonial home and a buy-to-let property. The Husband was a company director with high earnings and pension provision. Our client had a high level of financial needs and had inherited significant monies over recent years, which were now absorbed into the family finances. Our client was keen to ring-fence these inheritance monies from the rest of the matrimonial assets and to make the case for substantial spousal maintenance. Husband wanted a clean break.
Case outline This was a complex case. We completed our client’s Form E and very carefully prepared her needs budget, modelling her finances and that of her husband over the period until the children finished school. We also completed a detailed report, supported by a weight of evidence, to demonstrate the source and utilisation of the inheritance monies. We also established that the Husband’s pension CETV was potentially undervalued by c. £200,000.
Result With many issues to deal with, the case remained unresolved after the FDR and our client was determined to take it to a final hearing. However, in a series of offers and counter-offers (which we evaluated for her) our client negotiated successfully that the inheritance was largely separate and that her husband should relinquish his 50% interest in the FMH as recompense for a clean break.