There is a requirement in divorce courts for parties to disclose fully their assets and liabilities at the relevant date (usually the date of separation). The introduction of the Form 13A which needs to be lodged as part of the first papers lodged on behalf of a party puts that into sharp focus. This means that a party's financial position should be clear from the outset of a litigation. Valuations are not needed then and invariably follow but by the time the court has been reached, in most cases parties will have a good idea of who has what and what it was worth.
For complex cases the assistance of fund managers or accountants will be needed to produce reports on the value of a particular asset (for example shares in an unlisted private company). Commonly the business owner will be suggesting a lower value and the spouse claiming a share will be claiming a higher value is justified. Experts are invariably needed to consider all the evidence to produce a valuation of a company and often narrow the parties' position considerably. There can nevertheless be issues that remain which affect the value of a company, the continuation or renewal of a significant contract, the involvement of key personnel etc. These are often a matter of opinion, usually of the business owner, which the accountants have to rely upon to feed into their valuation. It is important that enough testing of the business owner's view is done to ensure the resulting valuation is robust.
Houses can be equally problematic. It is all very well having a home report done and the house on the market. If it doesn't sell, does that mean that the home report is wrong or is the house still worth the figure quoted in it, even if you can't actually sell it at that price or anything close to it? What something is worth is not necessarily what it is worth to you or what you would be prepared to sell it for. These are all factors to be weighed up in the context of a divorce action and can affect the viewpoint of both parties. It is necessary to take advice early on.
Janice Jones is a Partner in Harper Macleod's Family Law team with more than 20 years experience in all types of actions.
Harper Macleod's team of family solicitors understands that divorce and separation can have a huge impact on your life, and can guide you through the best course of action with sensitivity and objectivity. Getting the best advice is crucial to resolving your situation, and there are many options available to you, from litigation and arbitration to negotiation, mediation and collaboration. We have also designed a number of packaged fees which, in certain circumstances, will let you know from the outset what the costs will be.
To talk to one of our team call 0141 227 9545.