Trusts and Divorce

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Our family lawyers have a wealth of experience dealing with complex trust structures in the context of divorce proceedings. Such cases can present a number of difficulties, which may involve questions of enforcement, trustee cooperation or the involvement of other beneficiaries. A careful consideration of the nature of the trust is essential from the outset to ensure the correct strategy is adopted, whether we are advising a divorcing beneficiary, a non-beneficiary spouse, the trustees or other beneficiaries.

We are experts at recognising and advising on issues particular to cases involving trusts, such as:

  • The structure and nature of the trust;
  • The views of other beneficiaries and the fiduciary duties owed to them;
  • Offshore trusts and offshore assets; and
  • Enforcement challenges, including the approach to be taken when faced with offshore firewall legislation.

Offshore and international experts

We work closely with a number of trusted offshore and international experts to ensure the right result for you when dealing with multiple jurisdictions. Early engagement with such individuals is essential to ensure the correct approach is taken without offending the offshore jurisdiction.

Trustees and settlors

We work with trustees and settlors before divorce proceedings are contemplated to “stress test” trust arrangements, working collaboratively with our private client department to ensure the full picture is considered. We can advise trustees concerned about the future marital plans of their beneficiaries as to how best to structure a trust to ensure the purpose of that trust can be achieved and preserved for future generations. During proceedings, we work closely with trustees to consider the requests for disclosure and evidence against the trustees’ fiduciary duties to all beneficiaries. 

Divorcing beneficiaries

We advise divorcing beneficiaries wishing to protect the trust in the event it is attacked during divorce proceedings and will consider with you the extent to which the court may consider it a financial resource.  We understand the need for a sensitive approach where proceedings threaten the interests of family member beneficiaries and advise our clients beyond strict legal principles, offering a well-rounded service.

Non-beneficiary spouses

We work with non-beneficiary spouses to consider the authenticity of the trust and the powers available to the court to make orders against that trust.  We will consider with you all of the financial resources in the case and the likelihood of the trust offering a realistic method of financial support.  We look ahead to consider enforcement difficulties post final hearing and have these in mind when advising throughout, to ensure you can get the most from your settlement.

Our team has considerable litigation experience, contacts and the all-important instinct which makes us uniquely placed to recognise and understand the issues and strategy required to defend and contest these cases, and to help trustees and settlors plan for the future. We also work closely with and are able to draw on the expertise of lawyers in our contentious trusts and private client teams, which allows us to provide clients with a comprehensive and seamless service.

Our experience

Recent examples of our team's experience in divorce cases involving trusts include:

  • Prenuptial agreement with significant trust assets: we acted for a banker whose intention was predominantly to protect inherited wealth. The husband is a beneficiary of multiple family trusts and also has an interest in a property business with complex ownership structures.
  • Acting for the wife of a wealthy international businessman; the husband’s family had significant trust assets in excess of £500m with a complex Hindu Family Arrangement in place. This case involved working quickly to freeze international assets with mirror orders to protect the wife’s claim and interest.
  • Acting for the wife in financial remedy proceedings where the husband is the beneficiary of a number of international trusts, some of a dynastic nature and others which held property investments on his behalf and his siblings. We secured a significant capital settlement despite the husband’s claim that he had no capital assets and only enjoyed an income from the trusts.
  • Daga v Bangur [2018] EWFC 91 – Our client successfully defended all claims (including costs) by her former husband against the immense wealth of her family (estimated at £1.8billion) on the basis that such wealth and the trust assets involved were non-matrimonial property and excluded from any claim.
  • BJ v MJ (Financial Remedy: Overseas Trusts) [2011] EWHC 2708 (Fam), where the central question was how trusts should be treated in the division of assets following divorce.
  • Acting for a husband in proceedings involving a dynastic discretionary onshore trust with a value of £78million.  We successfully limited the wife’s claims to her basic needs, protecting the assets within the trust, despite the trust having provided a regular source of financial support to the husband.
  • Acting for a wife of a member of renowned publishing family in a financial case involving significant dynastic trusts in the UK and further trust assets in the US, successfully settling the case at the FDR hearing.
  • Acting for a wife in financial proceedings brought by a husband in the High Court in respect of super non-matrimonial assets deriving from the wife’s family, involving high value discretionary Jersey trusts.    
  • Representing a mother in High Court Schedule I (unmarried) proceedings where the father is comfortably in the bracket of the super-rich but has structured all of his wealth in several offshore family trusts.
  • Representing a multi-millionaire husband in proceedings where the wife sought to attack a high value discretionary Lichtenstein trust.
  • Acting for a husband who was the beneficiary of a high value discretionary Jersey trust where the wife alleged the trust was a sham. 


Further information

If you require further information or advice from our team of specialist family lawyers relating to trusts in the context of divorce, please contact a member of our team or call us on +44 (0)20 7814 1200. Alternatively, click here to get started online and find out where you stand.

"Kingsley Napley "has a very strong family department," say market insiders, who recognise the team's strength in advising high net worth clients on an array of family law matters."

Chambers High Net Worth Guide

"Professional yet sympathetic manner and the team always fights hard to defend your interests"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"It's a team that has a great breadth of experience across the board and particularly in international cases"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"All have been excellent and have shown great diligence and practicality, along with sensitivity during a very difficult time in my life"



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Bringing or defending disputes over wills, trusts and estates is especially demanding. Seeking expert legal advice at an early stage is crucial.

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