Complex family law cases may involve business ownership, investments, wealth planning, business wealth management, wealth protection, inheritance, professional practice or complex property and asset holdings. If there is a divorce or separation and there is business involved, it is recommended that solicitors are experienced in both family law and business law. The following is an example of the type of case we deal with (these facts do not refer to any particular case).
Mr. X was the owner of substantial business interests including shares in a manufacturing company, rented property in negative equity, development land and two farms. In addition he had various investments in shares, bonds and bank accounts. The family lived in a substantial family home and had a holiday home in France and a share in a holiday home in Florida.
Mrs. X at all times stayed at home to mind her children and never played any part in the family finances. There was always sufficient money to fund the family expenses and she had access to a current account and a credit card which was replenished by her husband.
Unfortunately, the marriage has now broken down after twenty five years and matters haven’t been solved amicably despite efforts at mediation. The couple are now divorcing and need to seek help from family law specialists and divorce solicitors to sort out their complex legal affairs.
While these are not the facts of a particular case, this story is similar to that of many of our family law clients. These cases are very complex because of the many assets that are involved.
Where we act for the woman in a divorce such as this one, our job will be to ensure that the husband is not hiding assets and to reach a fair settlement for the wife.
Where we act for the man in this kind of divorce, our job will be to reach a fair solution as regards the division of property which doesn’t damage the ability of his businesses to continue to earn.
Often individuals seeking to protect their wealth will enter a prenuptial agreement. These agreements are not yet enforceable in an Irish Court but they may help to outline to the Court the background to the marriage and the attitude of the parties at the outset.
Each complex family law case will be different but the best family law and divorce firm will provide painstaking attention to detail combined with a sympathetic and understanding approach. What is also required is a desire to finalise the case as quickly as possible.
We will often feel that the other party to the marriage is not acting fairly or being truthful and in those cases we will act firmly and decisively to represent our client’s interests.
This area of work may also involve preparing complex business agreements and dealing with property transfers.
Helen Coughlan and Niall Farrell are the partners who deal with family law at Patrick J Farrell and Company. Niall and Helen have dealt with family law cases for many years and both have significant business law expertise. Niall is the managing partner of the firm and looks after business disputes and commercial property. He can look at a family law case from a business perspective and deal with complex business arrangements and commercial property transfers. Helen formerly worked at one of the top Irish commercial law firms, Matheson Ormsby Prentice, where she gained significant business and commercial expertise which she now applies to her complex family law cases.