Dealing with the non-compliant spouse

I am commonly asked by female clients what would happen if their husband refused to cooperate with court proceedings, failed to disclose details of their assets or ignored orders of the court. I find these are often threats made by one party when faced with the prospect of paying more than they would like to their spouse on divorce.

In reality, a spouse who fails to cooperate can face a wide range of unfavourable orders being made, for example:

 – Deductions directly from their salary

– Enforcement against assets worldwide

– Joining of third parties to proceedings (for example family members or business associates where appropriate)

– Money judgments against them (restricting future ability to obtain credit/mortgage etc)

– Restriction on ability to travel

– Imprisonment

– Costs orders being made against them.

The recent English court judgment on the case of Thiry v Thiry [2014] EWHC 4046 (Fam) highlights the penalties that one party can face for failing to adhere to court rules or orders. In this case, Mr Thiry’s obstructive approach to the proceedings led to him being committed to prison for four months. He was described by Sir Peter Singer, the Judge presiding over the final hearing as ‘an unprincipled rogue who has acted in a financially predatory fashion to prey on his wife for his own profit and to her substantial detriment’. The Judge ordered Mr Thiry to pay his wife’s costs of the proceedings totalling £456,000.

This case should act as a deterrent for husbands, or wives who feel that they are ‘above the law’ and can evade court orders or processes.

The full judgment of this case can be found by clicking here.

Written by Alexandra Tribe, divorce specialist at Expatriate Law.

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