Financial disclosure is the completion of documents that clarify your financial position as part of the divorce process.
Whether you are completing your divorce by negotiating directly with your ex-partner or spouse, through solicitors, mediation, or the family courts, both parties must provide full and frank disclosure of their assets and debts.
This process is the only way a solicitor can advise you in detail whether the settlement is fair and reasonable.
The financial disclosure process provides the other party with information regarding their financial circumstances and evidence to support them.
It is often facilitated by completing Form E (view a Form E here), the document the court will direct the parties to complete if an application is made for a judge to determine how their assets should be divided.
Although it derives from the court process, Form E is commonly used when the parties are trying to reach an agreement, whether directly with each other, through mediation or solicitors.
What information does divorce financial disclosure Form E include?
Divorce financial disclosure Form E may include information on the following, together with supporting documentation:
Bank account balances
Savings, investments, or other such account balances
Pension cash equivalent values
Once Form E has been completed (with all relevant supporting documents attached), it is exchanged (preferably simultaneously) with the other party.
Each party then has an opportunity to consider the details provided and, should they wish, ask for further evidence or clarification.
The intention is to ensure that
(a) the parties believe they have all the information they need to understand the other’s financial circumstances and
(b) there are no hidden assets or otherwise suspicious transactions.
For more information, read the dos and don’ts of how to complete a Form E here. If you feel comfortable sourcing and filling out forms yourself, consult with local divorce solicitors for help.
Other financial disclosure statement divorce considerations
There are other elements of financial disclosure that are worth considering.
The value of assets: If there are assets of significance, but the value is disputed, an expert will need to be instructed. This can include surveyors to value property, chartered accountants to value businesses, or actuaries to assist in valuing pensions.
The mortgage capability of both parties: It is important to understand how much each party can borrow on a mortgage to rehouse themselves in the future. Each party should speak to a mortgage broker who can then write to confirm the details regarding their maximum borrowing capacity.
The parties’ reasonable housing needs: To determine what each parties’ reasonable housing needs are likely to be, they should each provide particulars for properties on the market for sale that they believe would be suitable for themselves and the other.
If both parties are satisfied with the information, they can negotiate a fair and reasonable divorce settlement. If or when an agreement is reached, this should be formalised into a document known as a consent order, which is then sent to the court. Consult with your respective family law solicitors to arrange this.
The court will review the agreement and, providing it is considered reasonable and fair, will formally approve the order.
Once a consent order is approved, it offers the parties security and certainty in how the assets will be divided and that their agreement is enforceable.
What happens after financial disclosure in divorce?
Without financial disclosure, you cannot be sure of your ex-partner’s/spouse’s assets. This is crucial because the law in this area is discretionary, so that different financial circumstances lead to differing financial outcomes.
If you do not know the correct financial circumstances, you cannot be sure that the agreement you have reached is fair.
Full and frank disclosure enables both parties’ divorce solicitors to have a clear picture of the financial assets in a marriage, assess the circumstances, and then advise as to the correct way a court is likely to approach a division of assets.
While there are several methods of avoiding financial disclosure, people rarely ‘get away’ with doing so. Your partner’s solicitor, and the court/appointed ADR third party, are more than familiar with the typical ways of avoiding financial disclosure.
Contact Stowe for ‘family law solicitors near me.’