We are often asked by clients in an initial meeting what they will receive by way of settlement, and crucially what they are “entitled to”, within a divorce. Without a crystal ball, as Solicitors we do not know what assets are available for distribution, and therefore cannot advise at the outset what a client may be eligible or entitled to from a marriage.
This can often be difficult to explain, but there is a clear method to obtain the necessary information to enable us to advise what a client will likely be entitled to in a divorce. The only way for the advice and true picture to be considered is for there to be full financial disclosure.
Financial disclosure is a process by which both parties declare to the other their full financial position, to include bank statements, credit cards, investments, properties, pensions, and also what each party would consider their “needs” are in relation to capital and income.
The financial disclosure is usually contained within a document called a “Form E”, and this has supporting evidence by way of bank statements, credit card statements, pension valuations, and other documents, depending on what assets the party’s hold.
It is important that once the Form E’s have been exchanged (as they are “swapped” with the other party) the information must be scrutinised. Unfortunately, it can be the case that a party will disclose most assets but sometimes “forgot” about a bank account, or a pension that they held. It is therefore important that once the disclosure has been received, this is scrutinised carefully to ensure that it is the true financial picture. This includes careful consideration of bank statements, credit card statements, pension history, etc. Once that has taken place, a Questionnaire can be raised, and gaps in the disclosure completed.
Financial disclosure can also be completed by way of schedules, however I often find these miss out important information, and my completing the Form E, it often jogs the persons memory of certain assets or income.
Once the disclosure process has been completed, and it is felt that there is a full picture regarding the matrimonial finances, at that stage your Solicitor or lawyer can advise you what you may be entitled to as part of the overall settlement, and what options you may have. There is no “one size fits all” outcome, and often one party may be more keen to preserve the family home, or to protect a pension.
At Brethertons, we work with our clients to ensure that we pursue an outcome which meets their needs, and our Solicitors will give you bespoke advice based on your situation.
We can also advise on the principles and law applicable to a client’s matter, but it is often advisable to wait until after the financial disclosure has been completed before a discussion on entitlement is had.
Consult our divorce solicitors in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby
If you would like to speak to a solicitor with expertise in guiding individuals through divorce and separation, please get in touch with a member of our team.