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Matrimonial matters are often intricate and multi-facetted, particularly when spouses attempt to hide assets and earnings prior to and/or during divorce proceedings.
Although there is a legal duty on each party to disclose the full particulars of their estate including but not limited to properties, bank accounts, investments (locally and offshore), business interests, savings, shares, retirement funds, pension plans and life insurances, spouses are not always honest and frank in making such a disclosure.
Consequently, many spouses are disadvantaged in settlement negotiations and/or court proceedings as they are not privy to their spouse’s true financial position, which could lead to an incorrect division of the joint estate, inaccurate calculation of the accrual and/or lower maintenance award. There is accordingly an increasing need for the use of forensic services within a matrimonial law context.
In the event that non-disclosure is suspected or want to be avoided, the Family Law team at Schindlers work side by side with Schindlers Forensics which can yield hugely beneficial outcomes.
Matrimonial Forensics is a prized resource and invaluable support that is offered to the Family Law team at Schindlers. The Rules of Court contain mechanisms to obtain a financial disclosure from the other spouse, however, is often coupled with tedious and timeous procedural aspects. If matters are urgent in nature or where unscrupulous conduct is suspected, Schindlers Forensics is able to conduct investigations thereby overcoming the shortcomings and constraints often experienced in the litigation process. This is a helpful tool that can be used to facilitate early settlement of disputes and/or parallel to court proceedings.
It is imperative to have as much knowledge as possible of your spouse’s financial ability if you are going through a divorce. A spouse may not declare certain assets, understate earnings, inflate expenditure and/or even provide distorted documentation during financial disclosure which could prejudice the outcome of a divorce. Where spouses require interim child and/or spousal maintenance in divorce matters or are embroiled in maintenance court enquiries, a full financial disclosure is legally required but often not adhered to in practice. Schindlers Forensics can assist in these instances.
Schindlers Forensics can assist clients to have a better understanding of the other party’s true financial position which can be used to facilitate dispute resolution in a more effective manner and offers beneficial litigation support to ultimately obtain a more favourable outcome.
MATRIMONIAL FORENSIC CONSULTANTS
Heading up the Family Law team is Nicola Nieuwoudt, a partner at Schindlers, and specialist family law practitioner.
After gaining commercial litigation experience at a leading law firm, she joined a boutique family law practice and has since predominantly built a family law practice at Schinders. The rest of the team consists of associate and candidate attorneys with specialist family law knowledge who work closely together to ensure a streamlined and satisfactory client experience.
The team has experience in highly acrimonious high net worth divorces as well as uncontested divorces. As an accredited divorce mediator, Nicola is well versed in the facilitation of dispute resolution. The team specialises in all areas of family law including but not limited to divorces, maintenance, disputes around parental rights and responsibilities, domestic violence and the drafting and/or interpretation of complex antenuptial contracts.
Nicola is a member of the Gauteng Family Law forum.