The fate of former Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne is a salutary lesson for spouses about the danger of marital secrets being later exposed by a husband or wife seeking retribution.

Huhne has admitted charges of perverting the course of justice over decade old allegations that ex-wife Vicky Pryce had taken penalty points on her licence when Huhne was driving to prevent him facing prosecution. Pryce has entered a defence of marital coercion.

Usually it is a couple's financial arrangements which can come under scrutiny after separation. One common example is when a self-employed husband sets up his business as a limited company and ostensibly employs a wife who receives her salary as dividend payments. The reality is the wife does little or no work for the business, and the payments are designed to mitigate the husband's tax liability.

But if after separation the husband continues to declare dividend payments to the wife without actually paying them to her, she could well be tempted to expose the arrangement to the husband's detriment.

Often, however, the parties' interests will in fact continue to be inter-linked and it is not usually in a spouse's interests to damage the earning capacity of their ex, particularly if they are seeking to rely on them for future maintenance. Or if there are children involved, it is hard to envisage a situation where it will be beneficial to damage the other parent.

Allegations can also sometimes surface later in connection with care arrangements for children. While together one party may willingly collude in covering up to the wider world issues about their other half which might cast doubt on their parenting abilities, such as suggestions of problem drinking.

But when faced with a dispute about where the children should reside after separation, a raft of allegations from the past can often surface if one parent is determined to restrict the involvement of the other parent in the children's lives.

As the Huhne case shows, while revenge is said to be a dish best served cold, in marital disputes it is sometimes best not served at all.



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