When dealing with financial matters in divorce or separation parties owe a duty of full and frank disclosure to each other. This is irrespective of whether disclosure is taking place on a voluntary or court ordered basis. This duty requires the parties to be open and honest about all aspects of their finances namely property, other capital assets, liabilities, pensions and income from all sources. Most disclosure is formulated on a financial statement or Form E. This is the document required within court proceedings and it sets out the parties’ positions in a clear and concise manner.

Without full and frank financial disclosure legal representatives are unable to advise what is fair and reasonable in terms of settlement. Full disclosure from the outset ensures sensible and fruitful negotiations can be undertaken.

If a person’s financial affairs are complex we are happy to work closely with professionals known to that individual to ensure the disclosure provided is accurate and coherent. Likewise, when receiving disclosure from another party we often consult professionals such as accountants or pension actuaries in order to assist with any queries the disclosure may create.

1. What documents will I have to disclose to my spouse?

As a minimum, you will need to provide information about any properties you hold, 12 months’ statements for every bank account whether in your sole name or jointly held with others, details of any savings and investments, details of any liabilities you have, valuations of your pensions and information about your income from all sources, including your payslips and P60 if you are employed or last two years accounts and tax returns if you are self-employed. If you have an interest in a business, under a trust or agricultural assets, you will need to provide additional information.

3. I think my spouse may try to dispose of or transfer their assets to someone else – what can I do?

Dissipating assets is a very serious matter. It is important to seek advice at the earliest opportunity. It is very important to act quickly in these circumstances. The court has a wide range of powers to make a number of orders to prevent this prejudicing your matter, including making an order preventing the disposal of assets, an order requiring assets already disposed of to be transferred back or a freezing order over certain assets or bank accounts.

4. What happens if after an agreement is reached I find that my spouse did not fully disclose all of their assets?

Separation can be a difficult time and disclosure may seem like an intrusive process. Non-disclosure is strongly discouraged and if your spouse has failed to accurately disclose their financial position, this may be deemed to be fraud or have such an effect that the court may decide to set aside the order or agreement because of the lack of openness and honesty about the financial arrangements.

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