I have lost count of the number of times that a client has said to me "my spouse is very clever, he/she will not give proper financial disclosure and I won’t get my fair share upon divorce".
It’s a fair concern: cases of non-disclosure are widely reported in the press and there are, unfortunately, a lot of cheats out there. The reality, however, is that at Vardags we generally do get to the bottom of spouses’ finances, using three main methods.
The first is using the process outlined by the court. In brief, this involves each party filling out a lengthy form called the Form E. The form requires full details of their finances including assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. Importantly they are required to provide documentary evidence such as bank account statements and company accounts. Then you have the opportunity to pose a detailed questionnaire, requesting further information wherever you can see gaps or inconsistencies. Failure to comply with these disclosure requirements can be taken into account in the ultimate financial award, and can be punished, ultimately, with a prison sentence.
The second is using the wealth of information that is available in the public domain. This can include details of addresses, property ownership, shareholdings, company Directorships, company websites and social media.
The third is using your own recollection: credit cards you have seen used but which don’t appear on your spouse’s Form E, the names of business associates who might be holding assets on behalf of your spouse, and details of foreign travel that give clues to foreign business interest.
All of these methods can provide valuable insights into your spouse’s finances, but they are particularly powerful in combination: it is genuinely difficult to hide assets from a concerted and professional interrogation.
To read more about non-disclosure, click here