Consequences of not disclosing financial details within divorce proceedings
7 August 2018 by Melanie Wilson
When couples divorce, one party may be concerned that the other party will not give full disclosure of his/her financial position to the Court. This concern is heightened when one party has historically dealt with all financial matters during the course of the marriage to the exclusion of the other, or where businesses or complex pensions or foreign assets are involved.
Once Divorce proceedings have been issued, a party can apply to the Court to ask the Court to decide financial matters. Even though the Court is involved, it is still open to the parties to reach an agreement up to and including at the final hearing.
When one party asks the Court to become involved in financial matters, the Court will Order both parties to give full disclosure of their respective financial positions, by completing a Form E. Both parties must send a copy of their Form E to the Court and the other party. This financial disclosure is necessary to enable the Court to decide what an appropriate financial settlement would be in absence of an agreement reached by the parties. The parties will also not be in a position to enter into negotiations to settle matters until full disclosure has taken place.
What is the position if one party does not fully disclose his/her financial position?
The Court can make various Orders to ensure disclosure takes place. These include attaching penal notices to Orders made by the Court requiring a party to provide information and documents. If the Order is still not complied with, an application to commit the non-disclosing party to prison can be made. Where there are systemic and repeated breaches of Court orders made in financial remedy proceedings, the Court is prepared to order the ultimate sanction of imprisoning a party as it did in the case of Hart v Hart this year. In that case, the husband, who was 83 years old and in poor health, breached numerous Court Orders resulting in a High Court Judges’ decision to send him to prison for 14 months for contempt of Court. Non-disclosure can therefore have very serious consequences.
If you are contemplating issuing divorce proceedings and you are concerned by your spouses’ approach to financial matters, it is imperative you seek specialist legal advice. Please contact Melanie Wilson on 01245 673767 or email [email protected].