Whilst 80% of our cases never see a formal Court process in the context of a FDA, FDR or Final Hearing there are always a few where the Court get’s involved. Never the ones with the most assets to argue about but more often than not truth a total absence of trust between the two parties.
The further down a court process you go, not only is it more expensive but you start to lose control of the outcome. So our motto is always to endeavour to settle your finances without a Judge getting involved.
We have unfortunately been engaged recently in more and more complex cases – very complex, not because the issues are actually complex but because one or both parties decide they want to be economical with their answers to questions or simply don’t want to disclose matters which they believe they an ‘blag’ away and it will never become uncovered. Our job as professionals is to read our clients behaviours and whilst we will always follow instructions we are not frightened at challenging them. Why ? – because If they aren’t truthful or transparent with the information and documents they provide it is more often than not because they want to hide something. Unfortunately very few clients are able to do this and the risks to them are significant.
Judges are there to look at the characters in the case as much as the information in front of them. They inevitably form judgements and an initial perception is one that often sticks in the mind of the judge as easily as it does with us – whether it is our client or indeed the spouse in the case. The biggest risk to an equitable settlement when the Court gets involved is not the numbers themselves, it is how the Judge considers the parties in the matter, whether they come across as credible and honest or do they try and dodge the questions in disclosure. Faced with this perception – it is difficult to overcome and if negative be aware the Court may just find against you when they are formulating directions and ultimately in a final hearing the division of assets. Remember the principle that a claimant should not benefit from being less than honest or open in their dealings with the Court. If a judge considers this, they are perfectly within their rights to find in favour of the opposing party and you might be left with a settlement that is not at all satisfactory. You are then on the back foot as we often say.
So the motto is to be open – it is always the best option because in protracted proceedings, things will be found out and it is our role to probe and press on what we find to the benefit of our clients. Don’t let the Court form a perception of you as someone who is less than open because the likely result is a settled that will not be one you are happy with.
The best solution is to settle matters outside of the Court process. We are focussed on doing just that – that is why over 80% of our cases settle without Court intervention.
About Peter Marples
Peter Marples – Director of Fair Result and qualified accountant, with the determination to change the way divorce is transacted. For further advice on financial settlements and navigating divorce, use the contact details below: