In the recent cases of Sharland v Sharland (2015) and Gohil v Gohil (2015) the Supreme Court set aside the consent orders that had been made for financial settlement on the basis that there had been non-disclosure of their financial assets by the husbands.
When assessing a fair financial settlement upon divorce it is important that both the husband and the wife exchange correct financial information with each other. The purpose is to ensure when deciding on your share of the pot you are making an informed decision. When there are Court proceedings the Court will order you to provide your financial information. This is known as disclosure because you are disclosing your financial information to the Court and your ex. Even when you see a solicitor or attend mediation rather than going to Court you will be advised to obtain your financial information to disclose voluntarily. This duty of disclosure continues right up until a financial settlement has been achieved either at a final Court hearing or by a consent order made between the parties.
Once you have seen the other person’s financial information, you can make an informed decision about the financial settlement you wish to achieve, and you may obtain advice from a solicitor or attend mediation to assist you in reaching that financial settlement. You may decide that you wish to accept a financial settlement that is less than you believe you are strictly entitled to because in family situations there are usually many factors you will take into account such as a joint ongoing relationship for in the benefit of your children, or if you do not have children, there may be other reasons aside from the finances which are important to you. Before making any of these decisions, however, financial disclosure is essential to enable you to reach the right decision. If you are only being told half the story, or feel as if you are being told half the story, the outcome is unlikely to be satisfactory. Also, the Court has the power to draw adverse inferences about the other party’s financial disclosure if there is a doubt that the whole story is being told.
The message sent by the Court in the cases of Sharland and Gohil was that overturning consent orders in divorce proceedings was likely even if both parties had given their agreement as the Court would not uphold an order if it was based on deceit.