What is Financial Disclosure?
Financial disclosure is the process of exchanging full details of your personal financial circumstances (within divorce proceedings) with your spouse. It is usually provided in a document known as a Form E.
The Form E is like a questionnaire and is designed to assist you set out full details of your financial circumstances. It requires each party to provide information, supported by documentary evidence, regarding all aspects of their finances. Including property, assets, savings, liabilities, income, companies, pensions, etc.
You will need to verify the information in the Form E by signing a Statement of Truth. Confirming that the content is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief.
At first glance, the Form E can seem like a daunting task. However not all of the sections may be relevant to you and you only need to complete the parts that apply to your circumstances. Your solicitor will also be able to assist you complete the Form E.
You can agree to voluntarily exchange financial disclosure (in Form E) through your solicitors. However, if your spouse will not agree, you are able to make an application to the Court and your spouse will be ordered to provide a financial disclosure. Please note that an application to Court should always be the last resort.
After Forms E have been exchanged and you have had an opportunity to consider your spouse’s disclosure, you are able to raise questions, seek clarification and request missing information is provided.
In some cases, it may be necessary to jointly instruct an expert(s) to provide advice regarding certain assets (such as property, companies, pensions, etc). Your solicitor will be able to assist you instruct experts, if needed.
Why is financial disclosure necessary?
It is important to have a disclosure of finances. This will ensure both you and your spouse are fully aware of the overall financial circumstances.
A disclosure allows the ‘pot’ to be established. To ensure your solicitor can explain the options available to you for dividing the finances between you.
The duty to provide a full and frank disclosure
You and your spouse have a duty to provide a full and frank disclosure. Which means that you must be open and honest about all aspects of your financial circumstances. Without a full and complete disclosure, a fair settlement cannot be achieved.
The duty is ongoing. Meaning that if your circumstances change during the proceedings, you must disclose this to the other party.
There may be serious consequences if you do not provide a full and frank disclosure. Failure to disclose a material fact could result in significant consequences to the person who failed in their duty.
If a settlement is reached and it ultimately emerges that one party was dishonest or misleading, the Court has the power to reopen or overturn an Order. Making a new Order, taking into account the undisclosed assets.
If you have separated from your spouse and need assistance establishing the assets and negotiating an agreement regarding the division of assets, please contact our family law team to arrange an appointment.
At Hart Reade, all of our family law solicitors are members of Resolution. Which means we are committed to resolving matters by agreement and in a non-confrontational manner.
We can provide you with a wealth of information, advice and support to assist you during what can be a difficult time. If you wish to speak to any of the family law team, please call us on 01323 727321.
Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. You should always speak to a legal professional to discuss your circumstances and consider your options.