You might do, if your financial needs have significantly changed as a result of your new relationship.
Setting up home with a new partner can be a heady and exciting time, especially if you have just left a troubled marriage behind you. It’s all too understandable to want to focus on your happiness and bright future together, even if ongoing divorce proceedings demand you look backwards too, at least for a while.
A key part of any divorce is the settlement – dividing your money and property – and needs are a guiding principle in the allocation of these assets. The family courts seek to ensure that both partners will have sufficient funds to meet their needs and pay their way following the divorce – in so far as that is possible.
When you divorce or separate, you and your ex-partner have a legal duty to provide full and frank disclosure of your financial circumstances. This means that you are required to provide full information about your income, assets and liabilities, and to indicate your likely financial needs in the future. This is vital to ensure that the eventual financial settlement is both fair to and reasonable for both parties.
A new relationship may well affect your own financial needs. For example, if you move in with your new partner, you may no longer have the same level of housing need, and if they provide you with financial support too, you obviously won’t have the same income requirements.
Of course, this situation could also move in the other direction: if you and your new partner are already expecting a child, for example, you may have a greater need for funds than you did before.
Details of your new partner’s finances
This all means that, yes, a family court will normally expect you to disclose some information about your new partner’s finances: their income, for example, their assets, and outgoings, in order to demonstrate your current needs. Of course, you do not have to disclose everything – just those aspects of their financial circumstances that are relevant to your new living arrangements. Your new partner’s bank account details or personal debts would fall outside that, and family judges will only be interested in relevant information necessary to enable a fair settlement.
Discussing the divorce with your new partner
But what if your new partner is not thrilled about revealing details of their financial affairs? Then you will need to talk the situation through with them carefully. This is a delicate topic, especially in the early stages of a relationship, and you and your partner may see the same situation very differently.
Clarity and respect should be your watchwords. Clearly explain to your new partner why your marriage ended in divorce but respect is also important. Resist the temptation to overshare or to badmouth your ex: doing so will send all the wrong signals and could even damage your new relationship. Try to be open and clear about what happened and how you feel about it now. Answer your new partner’s questions, respond to their feelings, and don’t pressure them to agree or sympathize with you.
They may have experienced their own divorce, or find the whole topic stressful and emotional. Choose the right time and place to raise the topic. You will need your new partner to be in as positive a mood as possible, receptive to doing you what is effectively a huge favour. Make sure they understand why their financial circumstances are relevant to your divorce proceedings.
If things don’t go well, try your best to keep a cool head and seek support and legal advice if you need it. A good family solicitor will help you work around any legal issues that crop up and prepare for your post-divorce future as best you can.
Financial disclosure is done via the completion of a standard form, called the Form E. This is capacious, with room for plenty of detail, but supplementary pages can be added too. You will also need to provide supporting documents, such as bank statements, payslips, tax returns, property valuations, and any other document relevant to your individual circumstances.
As we saw above, “full and frank” financial disclosure is a legal obligation in divorce proceedings, and of course that includes those aspects of your new partner’s finances relevant to the current situation and living arrangements. There can be serious consequences if you fail to disclose financial facts and figures and your former spouse or their legal team can demonstrate this in court. For example, the court may order you to pay costs, financially sanction you or even send you to prison for contempt of court in extreme circumstances. If a financial settlement has already been reached with your ex when the “material non-disclosure” comes to light, it will almost certainly be amended to address the inaccurate or complete information – or even set aside altogether for an expensive rehearing. Transparency and honesty are always the best policies.