Divorce Disclosure of Financial Information

What is disclosure?

Financial disclosure is a duty to let the other party see all financial documentation which may be relevant or have a bearing on any financial orders being applied for by either party.

The duty is to give "full and frank" disclosure and includes information that may "remove future uncertainties". Only lawyers could come up with this phrase! What they mean is, where there is an issue, for example, about someone possibly moving jobs or settling down with someone else in the near future, information should be provided about this. The general rule lawyers apply is when in doubt, disclose it, to prevent issues being raised later and any settlement being undermined.

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When does disclosure take place?

Financial information disclosure can take place during initial negotiations, as part of a request for the Court to approve a settlement, or as part of a full financial application. The further down the legal process you get, the more onerous this duty can become.

What happens if full disclosure is not given?

Should you fail to give proper disclosure, then it may be possible for the other side to ask the Court to set aside the settlement (usually at your cost) and to give them more money. If you are found to have lied about some of your finances, you may also find you will not be believed on the rest of your finances as well, which usually means it will cost you a lot more money.

If there is non-disclosure it has to be shown to have been material, before the Court will consider changing any Order. This means it would have had to make a difference. The more speculative the information, the less likely it may have an impact. You also have to consider timing. If you are in delicate negotiations about a new job, for example, you can hold back on resolving the financial issues until you have reached an agreement on this and then can give disclosure.

What if the information could lead to criminal proceedings?

Full and frank disclosure also means you will probably have to provide the information even if it shows you may have committed a criminal offence. Usually this will be tax or VAT fraud, but may include income from criminal activity. Where you are concerned about the position, it is important for you to seek proper legal advice. If the information is disclosed in the right way, the information cannot later be used against you in criminal proceedings. Get it wrong and the information could be used.

Do you need advice?

The most important thing is to make informed decisions. The most important factor to making informed decisions is having a solicitor who knows what they are doing and can advise you properly on your options. If you need advice, contact us now on 01935 823883.

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