If you are in the process of resolving the financial aspects of your divorce, such as deciding what to do with the Family Home, motor vehicles, pensions and so forth, your solicitor will talk to you about ‘disclosure’. Quite simply this is your duty to provide the financial documentation which evidences the value of your assets, income and liabilities, to your solicitor and spouse. This duty is ongoing until the conclusion of your case.
The sorts of documents your solicitor will require are as follows:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the documents your solicitor may require. If there are complex issues such as an inheritance or a trust, then your solicitor will ask for other specific documents. Please be aware that it can sometimes take up to three months to obtain the transfer value of your pension(s).
If your separation is amicable and the finances have been transparent during your marriage then your solicitor may advise you that a basic level of financial disclosure will suffice. This may consist of an exchange of the sorts of documents referred to above between solicitors or between your solicitor and your spouse (if they decide they do not wish to be represented).
If your case is more complex, your spouse has been secretive about finances during the marriage, or you believe they are trying to conceal assets they have accrued since separation, then your solicitor may advise that a voluntary exchange of Form E is more appropriate. A Form E is a comprehensive financial statement (28 pages) which contains full details of all your assets, income, liabilities and pensions. It is the same document that parties are ordered to exchange before their First Appointment if your case has to be decided in court, but solicitors often use the statement in a voluntary capacity when negotiating terms of a financial settlement, to encourage both parties to provide full and frank financial disclosure.
If your spouse does not cooperate with your solicitors request for financial disclosure which is material to your case, then your solicitor will advise you as to your options to compel your spouse to do so and they may suggest attending mediation or making a court application.
If your solicitor advises you that a court application is necessary then you and your spouse will be ordered to exchange separate Form E’s by a particular date, together will all documents in support. Parties are required to sign a statement of truth on the final page, confirming they’ve given full, frank, clear, accurate disclosure of all financial and other relevant circumstances. If a party fails to comply with the District Judge’s directions then they are in breach of a court order which can have serious consequences. In the case of Hammoud v Al Zawawi  EWHC 697 (Fam) Mr Justice Williams handed down a three-month prison sentence (suspended for 7 days) to a husband who failed to file a Form E.
Put very simply, without financial disclosure your solicitor would not be able to properly advise you as to what a fair and reasonable financial settlement would be in your case.
At Spain Williams we have specialist experience advising clients regarding financial disclosure as part of the divorce/dissolution process, or separately if you have already dissolved your Civil Partnership/divorced but have not yet obtained a financial consent order.
Aimee is a specialist family law solicitor with extensive experience of finances in divorce. Read more about Aimee here.