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Introduction >> Financial Arrangements

Step1:Apply For Ancillary Relief Step2:Financial Disclosure Step3:Negotiation Step4:Obtain Financial Order

Step 2

Financial
Disclosure

  Both parties must openly share full details of their financial circumstances. This is called disclosure. The parties swap financial declarations (done on Form E) with bank statements, salary slips etc. Either side can then ask follow up questions. 

Overview:

Without complete financial information no real view can be taken as to whether it is fair or whether the courts will agree that this is a reasonable settlement. Therefore the ‘disclosure’ of this information is vitally important to ensure ‘fair play’.

Both parties should provide the same documents. These are then exchanged with the spouse:

 - A recent mortgage statement of your property or properties

 - A valuation of your property within the last 6 months

 - Bank statements in respect of the past 12 months for each bank account you may have

 - Life insurance /Endowment surrender value quotations

 - ISA’s, PEP’s and any savings accounts/investments

 - Copy of the last 2 years business accounts if you have a business

 - Any other documents that may affect the valuation of a business interest

 - Last 3 wage slips

 - P60 for the most recent completed financial year

 - Accounts for the last 2 completed accounting years

 - Self employment or partnership income- copy of last tax assessment, net income from last financial year or estimate income for next 12 months

 - Any pension details and the cash equivalent transfer value

To help things along with these 12 points, quite often you may be asked to complete a financial statement form known as a Form E. This is extremely helpful to enable solicitors to negotiate for their client a settlement based on evidence of the financial circumstances.


Process:

Prior to issuing any applications to the court, this voluntary disclosure of documentation often proves successful in achieving settlement between divorcing couples and certainly sets out on the table what assets each of them has.

If an agreement is then reached between the couple, a Consent Order will be prepared, approved by both of them and their solicitors and finally lodged with the court for the District Judges approval.

Some people often feel that it is unnecessary to pry into the other person’s financial circumstances, Others believe they know one another and that their other half cannot hide anything from them. Some simply decide not to cause any mistrust between them by demanding their financial details, whilst others request that they simply wish to proceed to a Consent Order without disclosure. This is a matter for the couple to decide but the risk is that once a Consent Order is approved by the court, the agreement is final – which can prove difficult if after the divorce more assets are uncovered.

However, if each of them set out clearly their financial position in regards to capital and income, this would show the court that the divorcing couple were both fully aware of the assets held by the other.

In addition, if the solicitor does not know the financial position of both people, then he or she cannot advise as to whether the agreement into which they are entering is fair and reasonable. Therefore by ‘disclosing’ all of the details in their documents they all but eliminate the risk of any comeback in the future due to non disclosure.

If voluntary agreement proves impossible, the final solution is to attend court and to issue an application. The court will set a timetable and one of the requirements is to complete a ‘financial statement Form E’ (mentioned already). However this time, the document is sworn and submitted to court and both people must comply with this. In the event that one person fails to complete or disclose certain documents, higher costs may apply - and in some serious non disclosure cases, imprisonment can follow, so be warned!

It is therefore essential to consider at the outset, voluntary disclosure between the couple in order to achieve an amicable settlement, and there are other avenues to consider such as mediation and Collaborative Family Law. Again, both alternatives also steer towards seeking full and frank disclosure of each other’s assets.

Once financial statements have been exchanged, neither party is entitled to any further disclosure from the other without permission of the Court. In order to obtain that permission, both parties file lists of questions that they would like the other party to answer and documents that they would like the other party to produce. As long as the Court regards the requests as reasonable the other party is directed to answer those questions and provide the documents.

In almost every case the other party seeks and is given permission to ask for credit card statements for the past 12 months.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Form E?
Form E is the main tool used in financial disclosure. Each side is required to complete the form truthfully and completely, giving full details of all their finances. Once you receive the other parties Form E you are able to ask for further disclosure if you feel there are any gaps or avenues to be explored. It is not uncommon for people to withhold some information. This is generally not wise as it is likely to be discovered before the process is complete and the court can penalise you for non-disclosure.

What do I do if I suspect that the disclosure is not complete?
You can ask the court for a directions hearing. At this hearing you can show the court your evidence for your belief that there is missing disclosure / hidden assets. The court will decide whether to order the disclosure you requested and whether to threaten a punishment (e.g. a penal notice) should the disclosure not be forthcoming.

Do I have to disclose my new partners assets?
In general no, however the other side may successfully argue that certain assets in your New Partner’s name actually belong to you and the court may order disclosure of those elements. 


Useful resources for this step:

{xtypo_info} Information Leaflets for Financial Disclosure

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Guide to completing financial disclosure Form E (leaflet)

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{xtypo_download} Court forms for Financial Disclosure

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Financial Statement In Ancillary Relief (Form E)

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