For many married couples separating the thought of sorting out finances can often seem overwhelming and stressful. Many clients will often ask why same is necessary and why in particular there needs to be full disclosure of financial documentation.
To enter into any discussions about matrimonial finances there needs to be full disclosure of all financial documentation to include disclosure of all assets whether held in your sole name or jointly owned with your Spouse or indeed a third party. Failure to disclose an asset either in full or partly can result in any agreement being formally set aside at a later date.
Quite often clients will advise that they have come to an agreement and don’t want to produce any documentation. As legal representatives we cannot advise you as to your full rights and indeed liabilities unless we, as your legal representatives have seen all the information. An agreement agreed by parties without this discovery is in essence worthless and undoubtedly will never be approved by the Court.
The aim for any separating couples should be to engage in the exchange of discovery in an open, honest and transparent manner. Discovery should include but not limited to bank accounts, savings accounts, ISA’s, shares, property held jointly or in sole name, property held with other third parties, income details, business accounts, credit card debts or any other asset or financial liability. Valuations of all properties will also have to be undertaken, this however is usually a joint instruction by both parties. This is then compiled into a booklet of discovery and exchanged mutually with the other side, thereafter allowing negotiations to take place.
Once an agreement has been reached it will then be reduced to writing with the parties solicitors usually acting as witness to the agreement. Thereafter the agreement will be presented before the Court and an application made to make it a Rule of Court.
The agreement however once executed by both parties severs financial ties and allows the parties to move on with their financial lives. Quite often separating couples will seek to buy a new property and the existence of such a financial agreement is often required from mortgage lenders.
The advantage and necessity of such an agreement cannot be underestimated whatever level of wealth you have as a separating couple.
Naomi Devlin is a Solicitor in the Family Department at Worthingtons Solicitors: For advice, please visit our website www.worthingtonslaw.co.uk or contact Naomi on 028 9181 1538 or 028 9043 4015.
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