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Tips on Divorce Financial Disclosure

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Family solicitors tend to find that one of the most misunderstood areas of reaching a divorce financial settlement is the need to provide your ex-husband or wife, and their divorce solicitors, with financial disclosure. Some spouses think financial disclosure is completely unnecessary. Others believe that in divorce financial settlement court proceedings the court should make wide-ranging financial disclosure orders going back years and covering extensive historical paperwork.

The extent of the required divorce financial disclosure depends on your circumstances and those of your husband or wife. In this article, our specialist family law solicitors offer some general tips on divorce financial disclosure.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For divorce financial settlement legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

Different scenarios for divorce financial disclosure

You may be asked to provide financial disclosure in a number of different scenarios, such as:

  • Agreeing to a separation agreement
  • Solicitor led financial settlement negotiations
  • Family mediation
  • Family arbitration
  • Divorce financial settlement court proceedings
  • When asking the family court to make an agreed financial consent order
  • An application to vary a financial court order. For example, if an application is made to increase spousal maintenance payments

Whatever the reason behind the request for financial disclosure, you may be asked to complete a Form E document and provide supporting paperwork. Form E is the document you need to complete if you or your spouse start divorce financial settlement proceedings. It is often used when negotiating a financial settlement or in family mediation or arbitration as an established way of providing full financial disclosure.

Form E financial disclosure

Form E financial disclosure involves the completion of a long form setting out your personal and financial circumstances. You may think that personal information is unnecessary but it is relevant. For example, if you are in poor health this may result in your needing spousal maintenance or if you are planning to live with your partner your outgoings may be less than if you are planning on buying or renting a house on your own.

Form E is a standard document and set financial paperwork should accompany it. Form E is designed to be comprehensive so it includes disclosure of property and assets in your name or held with a third party or held overseas or in trust as well as business and pension and investment portfolio assets and your income, debts, and liabilities.

The evidence you need to produce includes:

  • Your income from all sources through disclosure of your salary slips, P60, or tax return
  • Pension, family business, and property information and values
  • Bank and building society account statements for the previous 12 months
  • Trust information if you are a beneficiary of a trust, including discretionary trusts where you have not yet received a capital or income distribution
  • Your debts and liabilities. This includes mortgage redemption statement
  • Your current and projected household outgoings and your housing plans. The outgoings may not change if you intend to stay at the family home or they may reduce if you plan to downsize or go up if your fixed-interest mortgage deal is due to expire

If you are asked to provide financial disclosure or to complete a Form E it is best to talk to a specialist family law solicitor for guidance and help in negotiating a fair divorce financial settlement.

Tips on divorce financial disclosure

Our family law solicitors offer the following general tips on financial disclosure:

  1. Do not ignore a request for financial disclosure – if you ignore requests for financial disclosure your ex-husband or wife is likely to start divorce financial settlement proceedings. A court application might have been avoided through voluntary financial disclosure and solicitor negotiations to reach a divorce financial settlement and agree to a financial consent order
  2. Do not ignore the start of divorce financial settlement proceedings – if you ignore orders for Form E financial disclosure made within financial settlement court proceedings the court could make additional orders (including cost orders) to compel you to provide financial disclosure. The court could also draw adverse inferences from your failure to provide financial disclosure
  3. Do not ignore deadlines- if there is a court-ordered or a negotiated deadline to provide information or documents you should not ignore it as that will just result in more hearings or solicitor letters. It is best to explain if you are having a problem with meeting a deadline and why. For example, you may be waiting for a pension valuation from a pension administrator
  4. Read the Form E carefully – the court may not accept that you rushed through the Form E and therefore did not realise that you had to disclose a minority shareholding or a holiday home
  5. Get expert family law legal advice – the Form E requires you to put a valuation figure on assets and to set out your plans. How you fill in the Form E will help determine your divorce financial settlement so it is important that the contents are not only accurate but carefully considered. For example, have you considered the tax consequences of selling a buy-to-let property portfolio or the sale of an investment portfolio? For example, does your pension transfer value accurately reflect the true value of your pension when compared to your spouse’s final salary pension scheme?
  6. Carefully consider requests for additional financial disclosure – once you have provided your financial disclosure your spouse may ask for more information or documents. Your initial reaction to the request may be one of frustration but discuss the request with your family law solicitor. Providing extra paperwork may just prolong negotiations and increase costs. Alternatively, not providing the extra documents may result in your spouse stopping solicitor negotiations or family mediation and instead applying to the court for a divorce financial settlement. In court proceedings, the court can order you to answer a questionnaire and provide extra documents if the court thinks the request is necessary and proportionate
  7. Do not be bamboozled – you normally only get one chance to reach a fair divorce financial settlement so do not accept your spouse telling you that they cannot find their financial paperwork or that it will take too long to get pension information or that you are not entitled to financial disclosure or that they will only do a deal with you if you do not ask questions about their assets. These are all red flags to warn you that you need expert family law advice

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For divorce financial settlement legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

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