When couples are separating and looking at their finances, they will be asked to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial position.
What is financial disclosure in divorce?
Each spouse has a duty to provide their own disclosure but is not required to provide any information relating to their spouse or partner. Caution should be exercised when obtaining and producing documents relating to the other partner’s finances, particularly without their express consent. This is sometimes referred to as ‘self-help’.
What if you believe your spouse is not disclosing all their assets?
This issue crops up regularly, usually where one spouse does not consider that the other is being open and honest in their disclosure. They may have seen or had access to the other spouse’s documents during the marriage which leads them to believe there are other assets or sources of income that are not being properly disclosed.
Much comes down to how a document is viewed i.e., is it a confidential document. Clearly, documents filed away in a locked drawer or password protected are undoubtedly confidential documents. But what about others?
In the past, for example, bank statements may have been left on a kitchen work surface at the family home and in that instance, such a document might not be considered confidential. With the advent of paperless finances, shared family computers or even shared ‘Clouds’ (iCloud, Google drive etc.) the lines may appear even more blurred, and documents are likely to feel less as though they are confidential and more like shared family documents. Caution should however still be exercised.
What documents does financial disclosure cover?
There is no definitive list as to what is and what is not a confidential document. Much will depend upon how the document was obtained, how the couple usually dealt with their paperwork and the surrounding factors.
Can you disclose documents on your spouse’s behalf?
When solicitors are faced with documents produced by a client relating to the other spouse, generally clients will be asked to place the documents within a sealed envelope so that the documents can be passed to the other spouse’s solicitor.
Your solicitor should always be informed of any concerns you have about the fullness of the other party’s disclosure, so that appropriate requests can be made for the information. There are applications which can, in certain circumstances, be made to court seeking the disclosure. Taking advice about the options available will always be better than trying to obtain the documents.
How can Tozers help?
We know that dealing with the end of a marriage by a divorce or separation can be very upsetting, which is why our Family Law Team is here to help navigate the process and support you to make decisions that are right for you. Visit their hub page to find out more and contact the team directly.