In the case of Bhura v Bhura  EWHC 3633 (FAM)
The British husband and wife were married for 22 years and had two children. Initially they lived in England where they ran a jewellery business before moving to the USA where they opened a business under the same name.
The marriage came to an abrupt end following and argument and thereafter the wife claimed that the husband and his father cleared the jewellery shop of all items. The husband asserted that he sold all the jewellery to friends and associates for a pittance and had no accurate records of the sales. Following the wife’s petition for divorce he returned to England and denied to jurisdiction of the Georgia court.
In proceedings in the Georgia court the wife estimated the value of the stock held in the shop was approximately $5m. The judge accepted the wife’s assertions and awarded her lump sum alimony of $2m.
Following the judgement the husband had made no attempt to comply with it. He claimed he had no means to pay and was living off State benefits. In relation to a property owned in London he claimed he had transferred 75% of the interest to his parents as a gift and offered to sell the 25% interest in order to pay his debts but had not done so.
The wife later registered this award in England. The husband was ordered to settle within 30 days and also to make periodical payments. He did not do so, however, claiming he was living off state benefits and had no means to pay.
The wife then applied for an order that her husband be sent to prison for failing to pay the money owed, as well as a writ of ne exeat regno, which forbids someone from leaving the country.
Sitting at the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn said he was satisfied to a criminal standard that the husband had the means to pay throughout and sentenced him to six weeks in prison, suspended for three months to allow time to make payment. If he failed to do so, the matter would come back before Mr Justice Mostyn.
The judge also issued an injunction forbidding the husband from leaving the country in the meantime, and ruled his passport should be held by his wife’s solicitors.
The full judgement can be read here – http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2012/3633.html