Emily Brand, partner in the family team at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, explains how the complex relationship between matrimonial and bankruptcy law is once again under the spotlight in the UK.
Poverty is devastating for families and no less so for those who have known great wealth. It is often the straw that breaks the back of a marriage, as Michael Caine once so wisely commented, when speaking about the breakdown of his first marriage. The inter-relationship between matrimonial law and bankruptcy law is complex and highly problematic as it is open to abuse by the unscrupulous. Alarm bells start ringing for matrimonial lawyers if a spouse is adjudged bankrupt during or shortly after financial proceedings, as people have been known to declare themselves bankrupt as a means of defeating their spouse’s legitimate claims. In the fallout, it can be difficult to distinguish between a genuine bankrupt and one who is acting out of spite.
Although bankruptcy can be a way of wiping the slate clean, where does it leave the non-bankrupt spouse, usually the wife?