In a case of matrimonial separation and divorce, it’s advisable to obtain financial disclosure to make sure assets are divided fairly. Associate Cheryl Haywood outlines the reasons.
If you have decided to separate from your spouse or civil partner, you may have financial matters to resolve such as how the matrimonial assets should be divided.
It is always beneficial to record a financial agreement in a consent order which, once approved by a judge, is legally binding and enforceable. This order will protect you against future claims being made by your spouse as a result of the marriage.
The standard procedure is for the parties to exchange financial disclosure in full prior to negotiations so that the value of the matrimonial assets can be calculated. In some situations, where both parties have good knowledge about the matrimonial finances, they may be tempted to avoid financial disclosure to save time and legal fees. You may have even negotiated between you to reach an agreement that both of you are happy with.
In this situation, you will need to be confident that your spouse has not hidden any assets. Realistically, the only way of ensuring that nothing is missed is by exchanging financial disclosure by way of bank statements, evidence of income and evidence of pension valuations.
It is possible to proceed with an agreement without financial disclosure being exchanged however this is not advisable. If you approach a matrimonial solicitor with an agreement but do not want to exchange disclosure, it is likely that you will be advised to explore your spouse’s finances. If you do not wish to do this, you may be asked to sign a disclaimer to confirm that you are content to proceed against your solicitor’s advice.
If you have little or no knowledge of the matrimonial finances, then it is essential that you request disclosure from your spouse. Even if you have ended the marriage on good terms, your lack of knowledge could be exploited and you could end up with less than you are legally entitled to.