When seeking to resolve matrimonial or dissolution finances, the parties have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of their financial means and circumstances.
This process is therefore usually requested and undertaken between the parties at an early stage in the resolution process, to enable consideration of settlement possibilities, and before concluding terms of a financial settlement by way of a Consent Order. If the court’s involvement is required to resolve matters in disputed cases, the court will require the parties to complete financial disclosure before the judge makes a final financial order.
If the parties to divorce or dissolution proceedings fail to disclose their true financial position, they not only risk a final financial court order or Consent Order being set aside (upon the other party’s application back to court, having discovered the non-disclosure after the final order is made), but also of prejudicing their position in relation to the final outcome of the case, be this in the original proceedings or upon a fresh order being made when the original order is set aside.
In considering whether to set aside a financial order and make a fresh order in this context, the court will seek to assess whether there is a strong possibility that the court would have made a substantially different order had the true position been known. Through the process of adverse inference, the court will consider whether funds have been hidden. The court will seek to evaluate the ‘hidden’ funds and ensure that the non-disclosure does not achieve for the non-disclosing party a better result than that which would have been ordered had the truth been told.
If considered appropriate, and in its discretion, the court may also penalise the non-disclosing party in terms of costs, requiring it to contribute to some or all of the other party’s costs of the proceedings.
These risks apply whether or not the non-disclosing party was represented by solicitors.
Please contact our Family team for further information and advice at: firstname.lastname@example.org