A survey, commissioned for the Co-Operative Legal Services by Onepoll, revealed that nearly one quarter of those divorced who were asked, admitted that they had tried to hide financial assets to “keep them secure”.
I was interested to read the outcome of a survey commissioned for the Cooperative Legal Services by Onepoll, which surveyed 800 divorced people.
When court proceedings are issued, both parties are required to complete a Form E. On the front of a Form E is a harsh warning “You have a duty to the court to give a full, frank and clear disclosure of all your financial and other relevant circumstances. A failure to give full and accurate disclosure may result in any order the court makes being set aside. If you are found to have been deliberately untruthful, criminal proceedings may be brought against you for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006. The information given in this form must be confirmed by a Statement of Truth. Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person who makes or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a Statement of Truth”.
The warning could therefore not be clearer. The client then signs the Statement of Trust at the end which confirms that “The information given above is a full, frank, clear and accurate disclosure of my financial and other relevant circumstances”.
However, the research reveals that nearly one quarter of those divorced who were asked, admitted that they had tried to hide financial assets to “keep them secure”.
I have sadly over the years seen many cases where assets have been hidden, the existence of which has come out in most cases, during the case, but on other occasions, after matters have been resolved. This has led to further litigation to set aside the terms of the original order. I have never previously had the personal experience of a client being sent to prison, but I do feel that recent cases show that the Judiciary will not tolerate a party being less than honest with disclosure. Maybe harsh sanctions, including some publicised cases of people being sent to prison, may make people less likely to be dishonest about their financial affairs. I always say it is much better to come clean and be honest, and we can then argue over whether those assets should be capable of distribution and form part of the “marital pot”. This is surely a much better approach than being dishonest, being on the back foot throughout the court proceedings and facing the wrath of the court.
Justine is a partner and head of the Family team Clarion can be contacted on 0113 336 3323 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
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