83 Year Old Tycoon Jailed For Contempt Over Divorce Settlement
The Law Of…Breaching Divorce Settlement Orders
A recent decision in the case of Hart v Hart has highlighted the importance of complying with Court orders in relation to divorce settlements, and the severe consequences faced should any party choose to deliberately breach such an order.
Jane Auty, Family Law Associate, explains the case.
Hart v Hart
In 2015 Karen Hart was awarded a £3.5 million share of the total £9.4 million marital assets. As part of the settlement, Mr John Ralph Hart (83) was ordered to transfer his property company to Mrs Hart.
According to His Honour Judge Wildblood QC, Mr Hart did his ‘utmost to frustrate her ability to run [the company] efficiently and effectively’ by delaying the transfer and removing management records.
Mr Hart received repeated warnings from the court, but continued to breach the terms of the order. His actions had a ‘profound’ effect on Mrs Hart, causing ‘deliberate and emotional harm’. In addition to the impact of the case on Mrs Hart, the Judge noted the unnecessary burden on public funds caused by protracted litigation.
Even after considering mitigating factors such as Mr Hart’s age and ill health, lack of any prior convictions, and his contributions to society, the court held Mr Hart in contempt of court. Mr Hart received a 14 month jail sentence for his actions.
"The decision is a clear reminder that where divorce court orders are repeatedly and deliberately breached, the court has extensive powers to ensure the orders are enforced."
"While the above case dealt with high-value assets, it is important to understand that the courts do not look favourably on any individual who fails to comply with financial orders. The court has the power to issue a custodial sentence regardless of the value of the assets."
How Simpson Millar Can Help With Your Divorce
The breakdown of a marriage is an unfortunate thing, but that is no excuse not to receive the result you are entitled to during proceedings. Our experienced Family Law solicitors can help you get the right resolution to your divorce, no matter how complex or high-value the disputed assets may be.
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