Discussing finances in a relationship is a tricky subject when you have been together for a long time, so it can be particularly difficult if you have embarked on a new relationship during your divorce. If you are living together, you will have to provide the court with details of your finances in order for it to assess your needs, which may be problematic if your new partner doesn’t want their financial information disclosed. So, do you have to disclose your new partner’s assets and earnings during the divorce process? Read our article to find out.
No matter how you are approaching the issue of dealing with your finances following separation, the first step towards negotiating a financial settlement is completion of a Form E. This is an in-depth questionnaire, currently 29 pages long, that requires various documents for each asset or liability you have, such as share certificates, or bank statements, for example. One question on the Form E specifically asks: “are you in a new relationship, and if so, are you cohabiting, or intending to do so”?
What is the definition of a new partner?
Cohabitation or displaying an intention to live together are the circumstances when a partner’s finances are most likely to be considered. The legal definition of cohabitation was dealt with in the case of Kimber v Kimber, where the court issued the following guidelines:
- Living together in the same household
- Living together involving sharing daily tasks and duties
- The level of stability and degree of permanence of the relationship
- Is the way in which financial issues are being handled an indication of the relationship?
- A sexual relationship
- Is there a bond between the new partner and any children?
- Intention and motivation; and
- Whether there is sufficient proof that the cohabitation would be considered to exist in the opinion of “the reasonable person with normal perception”.
Do I have to disclose my new partner’s assets?
As stated above, the Form E asks you to give information about your new partner’s income and assets. It is not uncommon for people to question why their partner’s circumstances are relevant, and worry about how they are going to ask them personal questions about their finances. It is important to note that the Form E only asks you to provide information known to you, as opposed to making direct enquiries about your new partner’s financial position.
What is the relevance of my new partner’s assets to my divorce settlement?
A new partner’s assets can be relevant in some divorce settlements, but in many cases, they are not. There is no fixed rule when it comes to new partners and divorce settlements with former partners. The court must consider the impact of a new partner, but the extent to which this influences the final decision can come down to several factors, including:
- The length and stability of the new relationship. Generally, the stronger it is, the more likely it will affect the final settlement.
- Are there sufficient assets in the matrimonial pot to meet the financial and housing requirements of the former couple without including the new partner’s assets? If yes, then they may be excluded.
- Does the new partner have any income and assets that are worth considering? If these are modest, they are more likely to be excluded. However, if the new partner is a high-earner, it is more likely the court will take this into account. In either situation, if there was enough in the matrimonial pot to meet the housing needs of both parties, the court may not take into account the new partner, as their wealth, or lack of it, has no bearing on the financial settlement.
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