Divorce, disclosure and death
The messy divorce of Michelle Young and Scot Young was the recent focus of a BBC Two documentary ‘Millionaire Ex-Wives Club’. The documentary highlighted the fact that despite the best efforts of the court it could not make Scot Young disclose his assets.
Scot Young was an entrepreneur involved in property and technology companies. During the divorce his wife alleged that he had millions, if not billions, stashed away. Scot Young claimed he had lost it all. A 20 day trial ensued after 65 prior court hearings. The truth was never established, even though Scot Young was sent to prison for six months, and in December 2014 he died after falling 20 metres from a window onto railings.
Full financial disclosure is a key element of the divorce process and is taken very seriously by lawyers, as they themselves are court officers and owe a duty to do as the court requires. Clients are often concerned that their other half will not disclose assets. For the most part (although clearly not in all cases) it is difficult to hide assets as there is an inevitable paper trail and most parties will heed a court order for fear of imprisonment. Speculation was rife that Scot Young was involved with sinister third parties and his fear of them was greater than his fear of prison but for most parties the fear of prison is greater than anything else.
Nicola Furmston is a solicitor and head of the Family team at Barker Gotelee.