Why is Financial Disclosure Required in Divorce Cases?

If you are divorcing your spouse or dissolving the civil partnership with your civil partner, you will be required to reach an agreement about how to divide your assets. The financial settlement that you agree to is recorded in a legal document called a consent order, which is legally binding when approved by a judge and sealed by the court. The sealed consent order finalises all financial claims between you and your spouse or civil partner arising from the divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership, and if it is made on a clean break basis, meaning that it prevents either of you from seeking more money from the other in the future.

Details about your assets

For the judge to properly consider whether the terms of a financial settlement in the consent order are fair and reasonable and meet the parties’ needs, the court requires sight of details about each party’s assets at the time of the divorce and after the terms of the consent order have been implemented. Such as once the family home is transferred to one party or sold, or a pension sharing order sharing a party’s pensions with the other party has been implemented. This is to ensure that each party has enough money to rehouse and pay their rent or mortgage and bills after the divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership.

D81 form

This financial information is included in a D81 statement of information form (“D81 form”) which is usually completed jointly by both parties. It includes background information in relation to the parties’ dates of birth, dates of the marriage, separation, and pronouncement of the conditional order or final order in the divorce proceedings, and the names and dates of birth of the parties’ children. There are also sections about each party’s current income and the capital assets they own, such as property, savings, and pensions, and sections about the income and capital assets they will have after the terms of the consent order have been implemented. Each party must sign a statement of truth confirming that they “believe that the facts stated in this Statement of Information for a consent order are true and [they] have made full disclosure of all relevant facts.”

The consequences of non-disclosure

In the case of Cummings v Fawn [2023] EWHC 830 (Fam), the parties had signed the draft consent order, but it had not been approved by a judge and therefore had not been sealed by the court. The wife discovered that the husband failed to include in the D81 form that he owned inherited assets worth c. £4million. The husband was found by the court to be fraudulent and his failure to disclose these assets affected the terms of the financial settlement agreed with the wife. In this case, the terms of the financial settlement that had been agreed and set out in the draft consent order were set aside by the court which meant that it could not be relied on by the parties and they had to reach a new agreement.

This case highlights the importance of completing the D81 form honestly and with all the correct information about all your assets, including savings and investments as well as inheritance monies, pensions, properties, and your income such as your salary, benefits, interest on savings, and any maintenance received.

It is vital that expert advice is taken from an experienced family lawyer to ensure that any financial agreement reached is binding, and to make sure that it cannot be set aside by the court in the future.

For expert guidance and support in navigating the complexities of financial settlements in divorce or civil partnership dissolution cases, contact our family team at Thursfields Solicitors on 0345 207 3728 or email us on info@thursfields.co.uk. Our experienced family lawyers can provide you with the necessary advice to ensure that any financial agreement reached, including the creation of a consent order, is legally binding and safeguarded against potential challenges in the future. To learn more about safeguarding your assets in divorce, visit: How to Protect Your Assets From Divorce | Thursfields Law Firm

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