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Divorce and separation - saving money
At JMW we are dedicated to ensuring your legal costs are as modest as they can be and proportionate to the issues at stake. You can help by providing us with the information and documentation we need – particularly financial information – quickly and in a logical order.
Your first meeting
It can be helpful to do a small amount of homework before you meet with us for the first time. You don’t need to come armed with stacks of paperwork but it would be helpful if you have a rough idea of your family’s legal and financial situation, for example:
- If you own your property, think about how much it might be worth and how much is outstanding on any mortgage(s)
- What savings or investments do you have?
- Have you got any pensions, whether or not you are still contributing to them?
- Do you or your partner have any debts?
- What do you and your partner earn?
- Are there any previous court orders or written agreements regarding your financial affairs? If so, bring a copy with you
- Do you have a pre-nuptial or pre-partnership agreement? If so, bring a copy with you
- If divorce or civil partnership proceedings are already underway, bring a copy of any documentation from the court with you
Please note that there are strict rules about accessing information either on paper or online relating to your spouse, partner or any third party (e.g. regarding pensions or bank accounts that are not in your name) without that person’s consent. Accessing or attempting to access confidential information without permission can expose you to civil penalties and, in some cases, criminal liability. If in doubt, please ask us for advice
Detailed financial disclosure
If it becomes necessary to provide us with detailed financial disclosure, for example, if you need to complete a Form E Financial Statement, it can really help speed things up if the supporting documentation you send us is complete and each set of paperwork (e.g. bank statements for a particular account) is assembled in date order.
If there are gaps in the documentation, for instance in a run of bank statements, it is helpful if you can identify these gaps and ensure that you contact the relevant institution immediately to order duplicate statements. It can take banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions a very long time to provide documentation so the sooner you request any documentation you need, the better. This is particularly the case where pensions are concerned.
It is likely that you will need to provide the following information:
- Recent mortgage statements regarding any outstanding mortgages
- Any market appraisals of the family home and other properties you own, which have been undertaken in the last 6 months. There is no need to arrange a valuation unless we ask you to do this
- A year’s worth of statements in relation to all bank or building society accounts
- A list of all shares and investments, along with a copy of your share portfolio (if appropriate)
- Valuations of any other capital assets
- Up-to-date surrender values for any endowment policies or life policies with a cash-in value, if in doubt, ask the insurance company for details
- Details of any valuable items such as cars or jewellery
- Up to date documentation regarding all outstanding loans and credit card debts
- If you are self-employed and/or own a business, the last two years’ financial statements for each business entity, including subsidiaries
- Cash equivalent values (CEVs) for all your pensions, including those to which you no longer contribute. Contact the relevant provider and ask them for a ‘written cash equivalent value for use within divorce proceedings’. Unless the pension is in payment, the pension company must provide you with one CEV each year, free of charge
- our most recent P60, P11D and your last three wage slips, if you are employed
- Your most recent completed tax return and assessment, if relevant
- Evidence of any state benefits you receive (e.g. state pension or tax credits)
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list and there may be other items you need to provide. Conversely, some of these items may not be relevant to your situation.