Disclosure of Financial Assets on Divorce
06 September 2017
When going through a divorce, both people must disclose their financial assets. This must be a ‘full and frank disclosure’, as it is the only way to ensure that the divorce settlement is fair and reasonable. A failure to fully disclose your assets could result in any Order that is made being overturned.
What is Financial Disclosure?
Financial disclosure is when you provide a full statement of your current financial circumstances with supporting documents.
This must include all your financial assets, even those you don’t consider to be matrimonial assets. For instance, a business that you have built up without the involvement of your ex-spouse, or any property that is in your sole name.
The disclosure of financial assets can be done on a voluntary basis. If so, you should provide your Divorce Solicitor with the paperwork necessary to create a complete picture of your financial standing. This might include:
- Mortgage statements
- Recent valuations of properties
- Wage slips / self-employed earnings
- Bank statements
- Business accounts
- Insurance policies
Alternatively if financial disclosure is not forthcoming, you can make an application to Court. The Court will then set a timetable for when financial disclosure must take place.
The Financial Disclosure Process
If financial disclosure is done on a voluntary basis, the documents provided will be exchanged and reviewed by each person’s Divorce Solicitor. If your Divorce Solicitor thinks there are any gaps or anomalies in your ex-spouse’s disclosure, further steps can be taken (see below for more information).
But if each person is satisfied, your Divorce Solicitor can use the information provided to negotiate a divorce settlement that is fair and reasonable. This is the whole point of financial disclosure, because without it you can’t be sure what your ex owns – and so you can’t begin to discuss the division of assets.
If an agreement is reached as to how your financial assets should be divided, you can make an application to the Court for a Consent Order. The Court will then review the evidence to ensure that the agreement you have come to is fair and reasonable to each person. If the Judge is in agreement, your divorce settlement can be formally recorded in a Consent Order.
Or if you’re unable to reach an agreement with your ex, you can make an application to the Court, where a Judge will ultimately decide how your financial assets should be split. As part of this process, the Court will order each person to complete a form E, in which they provide full details of their financial circumstances.
What Can I Do if I Think My Ex is Hiding Assets?
If you or your Divorce Solicitor suspects that your ex is not being entirely truthful, the matter will need to be investigated further. The first step is to contact his/her Divorce Solicitor and request that full and frank disclosure takes place.
If this does not lead to a satisfactory conclusion, you can make an application to the Court, in which you must provide evidence that supports your suspicion that assets are being hidden. The Court may then order your ex to disclose his/her assets.
Why Bother with Financial Disclosure?
On the other hand, some people may not feel that they need to complete financial disclosure. This might be because they feel they know exactly what their ex owns, or because they don’t believe it’s any of their business.
However, you may be entitled to a share of your ex’s financial assets. And without financial disclosure, you cannot be sure what he/she owns – even if you think you do, it’s possible that assets have remained hidden for some time.
Therefore you cannot necessarily rely on good will. It’s best to get a clear picture of exactly what each person owns, as this will guarantee that your divorce settlement is based on fact. Otherwise you may not receive what you are rightfully entitled to.
Once you have formalised the agreement in a Court Order, it will be very difficult to go back and request further money. So if you later discover that assets were concealed, a further application to Court would be required.