We're Divorcing - Do I Have To Reveal ALL My Financial Information?
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During divorce there is no avoiding a full and frank disclosure of each other’s finances. Neither you nor your spouse should put you head in the sand or believe you can squirrel away and hide assets or income.
The recent sentencing of a man to seven and a half months in jail for misleading a court and deliberately lowering the value of his main residence during his divorce is a salutary reminder of the consequences of disregarding the law.
There are three areas to consider in the disclosure when working out who has what proportion of the joint finances – and for how long.
Assets – including savings, investments, property, shares, and businesses
Income – whether you are employed or self-employed, along with dividends and interest payments
Pensions – the type of scheme and value
Both you and your spouse must produce a completed form which sets out in detail all your finances. Standard requirements include providing details of all bank accounts along with one year’s worth of statements for each account. In addition, pay slips and other documents are needed to confirm the accuracy of the information.
The next priority is building a detailed picture of the needs and requirements of you and your spouse, both now and going forwards. This protects both of you, ensuring you each receive a fair settlement for your financial situation.
Despite the introduction this April of No-Fault Divorce - which removes the need for separating couples to apportion blame - financial settlements continue, on occasions, to remain more problematical and difficult during divorce proceedings.
We always recommend you see an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible to obtain a good understanding of your financial rights and obligations.
Entering into negotiations without first understanding what you might be entitled to, or required to provide, can create an unrealistic expectation on you both and it may cause unexpected difficulties in the future.
It is important to resolve (either by negotiation or through the courts) all the financial issues before the Final Order (the legal document ending your marriage for good) is made to ensure that both parties are financially secure.
Planning your future finances may be the last thing you want to do at such a tough time. However, reaching a financial settlement that is mutually satisfactory and will stand up to legal scrutiny is a priority.
Giving clarity and certainty to you and your spouse, finalising the financial issues between you enables you both to look forward with security, optimism, and peace of mind.
Nicki Mitchell is a Partner at Jones Myers family law firm.