Why does divorce have to be so complicated?
Marilyn Bell explores some of the complications that commonly occur when disclosing financial information during divorce
I often find that where there are complex finances, for example various companies, with holding companies and complex property structure that it is usual for either the Husband of the Wife to be more involved with business structures than the other. If it is, say, the Husband, he can often feel quite resentful about providing detailed and lengthy financial information about the business finances. I have been asked many times “why does it have to be like this? Why can’t she see that I made a reasonable offer and it will provide for her very comfortably and simply accept this so that we can move on with our lives?” This is a very understandable sentiment with regard to the amount of time, and legal costs, that can be involved in providing the financial details.
However, if it is the Wife who is the one who has, perhaps, been at home caring for the children and possibly working part time she will be seeking advice from her solicitors as to whether what her Husband is offering is a fair settlement. Her solicitor will simply not be able to advise her without the financial information. It may, indeed, be a fair offer, but if she is to have legal advice all of the details have to be provided. This can be very frustrating for, in this example, the Husband who initially provides details with his financial disclosure and then finds himself on the receiving end of numerous questions and requests for further information and documentation.
What is the best way of dealing with this?
In our example, the Husband’s solicitor will advise him what the Court’s approach would be to the financial information being requested. If it is extreme, unnecessary, or does not relate to what has to be resolved, the request to provide that particular information can be resisted. It may be that, say, 5 years ago, the Husband had another company which was, possibly, far more successful at one time, but the nature of business may have changed and that company declined and has been wound up.
The winding up will be fully documented at Companies House and final accounts will have to have been filed. All of this documentation is publicly available. If detailed questions are being asked about previous business, often in the context of why the Husband is less successful now than he was with the previous business, it may be possible to resist such questions, if it cannot be established that there is a justifiable reason for asking them.
If the Husband is advised that the Wife’s questions and requests for documents is appropriate the best way is a bit like committing to going to the gym every morning and a case of simply getting on with it. The sooner it is provided, and the more complete the information, the sooner this stage can be passed and there can then be settlement negotiations.