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Fraud in Court orders

If a divorcing couple reach an agreement will the court always turn that agreement into an order?


Many people do not realise that simply sending agreed terms to court does not automatically mean that a court order will follow. The judge is still required to carry out a legal balancing exercise to check that the terms reached seem fair and always has an overriding power to raise enquiries if he or she thinks necessary. It follows that although in normal life two people may make a deal, shake hands and create a contract, in matrimonial proceedings there is no binding contract simply because of agreement.


The court needs to be satisfied that the parties have given full and frank disclosure of relevant information - which may go beyond mere obvious financial documentation - and that the parties give genuine agreement to the terms proposed. An order can be set aside if consent is not valid. One of the most obvious ways in which consent is not valid is where there has been dishonesty or even fraud by one of the parties. In this context fraud is deliberate dishonesty.


In many cases fraud will lead to a court order being undone. However a court might still conclude that the fraud had no effect on the terms agreed and that the court would still have made the order had the fraud been known. There is a general principle that fraud will be enough to undo a deal but in matrimonial cases the fraud will need to be relevant. The burden is on the person in the wrong to show that it would have had no effect. If a case does have to be reconsidered it is possible that some things are still agreed and only relevant parts need to be reopened and if that is what is required it is what the court may well do.


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Added: 04 Feb 2016 12:35

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