The case of a woman who lost £600,000 by trying to hide it should warn people against trying to conceal money during a divorce, Thursfields Solicitors has warned.

The comments come after Sarah Byrne lost part of the £1 million fortune she had inherited by asking a “friendly” builder to conceal it as she was planning a divorce.

She and her husband later decided to stay together, but Mrs Byrne then had to take court action to retrieve the money from the builder who claimed she had invested it with him.

Shane Miller, a Director and Head of the Family team at Thursfields, said: “This sorry case is a prime example of the complications that can arise if people try to hide finances during divorce proceedings.

It is always important for full and frank disclosure to be engaged with during a divorce, making sure it is honest and transparent at all stages.

Without this transparency, a court cannot make a proper order on how to split finances during a divorce, or if such concealment is later discovered any such orders can be undone.

Potential divorcees should be aware that courts and lawyers are highly experienced in such matters and are almost always wise to those who try to hide assets in this way.”

In Mrs Byrne’s court case, the judge noted that the plan to hide money would have “almost certainly failed”, stating that it had been a “dishonest” agreement.

But he added it would be wrong for the “friendly” builder to benefit from the transaction, particularly as the divorce did not happen in the end, and he ruled the money must be returned.

Shane of Thursfields added: “Whatever the outcome in this particular case, it should serve as a warning to other people considering divorce who might think hiding finances is a good idea.

It never is: as well as creating all sorts of obstacles in terms of their access to the money, courts might also decide to punish a person deemed to have been hiding their money by seeking costs against them.”


Anyone with queries on divorce, financial or children matters can contact Shane Miller on 01562 512442 or smiller@thursfields.co.uk

Thursfields Solicitors has offices across the West Midlands in Birmingham, Worcester, Kidderminster, Solihull, Halesowen, Sedgley and Stourport.

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