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Separating and want to grab your ex’s financial documents?


Published: 15th June 2011 - Category: Separation and Divorce - Author: Lynne Bastow

When couples separate there is often a lack of trust.  This can be based upon events that have happened or worry and anxiety about events that might happen.  Often there is suspicion that the other party is not supplying the true picture of their finances.

Thinking that your ex is going to be less than honest about his/her financial situation can encourage some to take action in what used to be termed “self help” in matrimonial finances and take and copy financial documents for use in their case.

This is no longer accepted by the family courts.  It has been ruled (case of Immerman) that such action is not acceptable and if a party is concerned that the other is being less than honest then an application to court is needed with a request to search their premises.

Sounds expensive, which is why “self help” grew up in the first place. If you get it wrong – launch what is in effect a fishing expedition – then there are severe costs penalties. What about the overriding objective of proportionality?

The only way to take another’s documents is if they are left lying around the home (often happens – bank statements left on the breakfast table) or stored in a joint area – such as a shared desk or filing cabinet.

Marco Pierre White has recently won an apology and an out of court settlement from his wife’s solicitors Withers as reported in The Telegraph. His wife was advised to take his personal documents – including a letter from his daughter – and Mr White decided to sue and got as far as the Court of Appeal. At the same time the case of Immerman was going through which confirmed that interference with another’s documents was reprehensible and not to be upheld by the Courts. Just to make it even worse for Withers, Mr and Mrs White reconciled.

That is the fascinating thing about family law – nobody can predict what will happen next.

So the advice is – have an open marriage!

Not in that sense – know the facts before you separate and share information with each other – unless of course you are seeking to keep your money for yourself.

This latest development has been dubbed the cheats charter…

Lynne Bastow Divorce Solicitor

Meet Lynne Bastow

With over 16 years experience, Lynne can provide excellent and valuable advice and has a friendly, positive approach towards all her clients, ensuring you get the best service possible.

Read Lynne's Books

If you need more information on divorce, Lynne has published two informative guides on divorce, which you can purchase from Amazon.

The Little Book of Divorce

The Little Book of Divorce

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The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

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