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Full financial disclosure during separation: why it’s vital

If you are getting divorced or separated, then financial disclosure might be a phrase you’re familiar with. We mentioned financial disclosure as part of our Divorce Myths blog last year, but it’s worth looking at in more detail because there are still a lot of misunderstandings about what it means, and what is involved.

Full and frank disclosure of all assets is one of the most important aspects of a divorce. In many cases it is done voluntarily and amicably, but that is regrettably not always the case. Here is the Browell Smith & Co guide to financial disclosure:

What is financial disclosure?

Financial disclosure is a declaration of all of your assets, which must be taken into account as part of any divorce proceedings. All divorce proceedings must be fair and reasonable, regardless of the sometimes-difficult circumstances that come with ending a long relationship.

This does not just include cash in your bank, your house or your car: it must also include assets that you might not consider to be ‘part of the marriage’.

For example, if you have built up a business on your own, then that should also be declared. Other assets that are sometimes missed, either deliberately or accidentally, are insurance policies and pensions accounts, especially if people have several pensions with different providers.

Is it compulsory?

Yes, and if you feel your ex-partner is hiding assets from you, then raise it with your solicitor. Further investigation will be required, and it could end up becoming a court matter.

In this case, you will typically be required to provide evidence that supports your claims, and, if successful, the court can order your ex-partner to disclose their assets in full.

So why do people purposefully avoid full financial disclosure?

They do this to protect their assets, in an attempt to hold on to as much as they possibly can. It’s not a good idea: we divorce lawyers can be incredibly inquisitive and thorough! We will forensically analyse all the evidence and will always act in the best interests of our clients to ensure they receive what they are entitled to as part of the divorce or separation process.

Are there punishments for failing to disclose?

Yes. Repeated failure could see you charged with contempt of court – a charge that can carry jail time.

Full and frank disclosure keeps the process quicker, smoother and more amicable, reduces legal costs and keeps you on the right side of the law.

What’s a divorce financial settlement?

The divorce financial settlement agreement comes further down the line, and will be based on the declarations made as part of the financial disclosure process. A final, legal financial settlement doesn’t happen by default when a divorce is finalised, so it’s vital to make sure you get one.

Without it, outstanding financial claims may come back to disrupt your life even years after your divorce has been finalised because ex-partners can retain the ability to make financial claims against you, and there’s no time limit for making such a claim.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively call our family team directly on 0191 691 3418 to discuss your particular requirements.

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