If you are going through a divorce and you were not particularly involved in financial decisions or aware of your finances during your marriage, getting to grips with that part of your life going forwards can feel a daunting task. In order to finalise your divorce proceedings, it is best practice to conclude the financial side of your separation as well. You will therefore need to go through the process of financial disclosure.
If you choose to discuss finances in mediation, your mediator will support and guide you through the process. However, they cannot complete the forms for you. If you instruct a solicitor, they can complete the forms with you, but it can be expensive. My initial suggestion would therefore be, don’t put it off. I understand how easy it is to avoid those tasks that seem too enormous to comprehend but it’s not going to go away so it is best to “grasp the nettle”, as it were! Have a look at some online guides to financial disclosure and what to expect.
Download the relevant form (called a Form E in divorce cases) and the guidance notes. Print if off if that is easier for you. Look at the information that you will need to provide and highlight if there are organisations that you will need to contact. For example, if you have pension, you will need to contact your pension provider to obtain a Cash Equivalent Value for your pension. Pension providers can take some time to respond to enquiries so the sooner you contact them, the better. You will also need information about your state pension.
My next tip is to get organised. Get a box file and start collecting your financial documents, your bank statements, pension details and mortgage information. Having all the information in one place will make life a lot easier.
Start completing the form in manageable chunks. Don’t feel you have to sit down and finish it in one sitting, if this is too overwhelming for you. If you run into difficulties, contact your mediator. They will be able to offer you some guidance. You could also consider using a divorce coach or chartered financial planner who can help support you to do this if you’re finding it challenging.
Once you have completed your financial disclosure and exchanged information with your ex-partner, you will bring that information to a mediation meeting where the information is recorded. If there are gaps in the disclosure and some information is missing, this can be identified, and that information can be produced at the next meeting. If you do not understand any of the financial information that has been given by your ex-partner, you are able to ask for clarification in mediation. This is your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have and hopefully get some answers.
The process of financial disclosure is hugely important, not only because there is a legal requirement to provide full and frank information about your finances, but it is essential to have an understanding of your current financial situation, before you can make any decisions as to what your financial future could be.
Your mediator will remind you that you are able to take advice from an Independent Legal Advisor or a solicitor at any time. If you feel that you need that help and support, mediation will give you the time and space to access that.
Things might have been different in the past, but you can now control your financial future. Be confident – you can do it!