Form E – Financial Statement for a financial order – is one of the forms the court will tell you to complete if they are being asked to make a ruling on how your finances are to be split on your divorce. This is likely to come after you have tried mediation, but have not been able to come to an agreement that you can both accept. The information you give in Form E is your full and complete disclosure of all your finances to give the court all the information it needs to make a ruling on how your finances are to be split.
This article will give you an overview of what you have to consider if you have to complete a Form E.
Who has to complete a Form E?
Both parties in the divorce have to complete their own Form E, if the court is being asked to decide on how to split your finances. This is different to what happens if you have agreed your financial settlement with your ex, possibly through mediation, and are applying for a Consent Order to make your agreement legally binding. In this case you complete a Divorce form D81 summary of your finances and you are encouraged to submit a joint D81 form.
Do I have to use a solicitor to complete a Form E?
This is a very detailed, long and complicated questionnaire – 30 pages long in its current version. The vast majority of people who have to complete a Form E need a solicitor’s help to complete it accurately. We always recommend people to get professional legal advice when having to complete this full disclosure of your finances. This is because of the technical nature of several of the questions, the need to include absolutely everything, and the possible consequences if you make a mistake when completing the form. There is also a deadline to comply with. You have to send your Form E to the court and to the other party in the proceedings at least 35 days before the first court appointment.
It will take several hours work to gather all the information needed to complete a Form E, even for an experienced solicitor. Because of the complexity involved, their fee to do this for you is likely going to be something over £1,000.
The sections of a Form E
The initial notes on the form make it clear that you have a duty to the court to give a full, frank and clear disclosure of all your financial and other relevant circumstances. If you do not give full and accurate disclosure, any order the court makes could end up being null and void. You could have criminal proceedings brought against you for fraud if you are found to have been deliberately untruthful. Added to this, you have to make a statement of truth when signing the form, which means that if you are deliberately or carelessly untruthful, you could be in contempt of court as well. So, this is a form that has to be taken very seriously indeed.
The first section asks you to give full and detailed information about yourself and the children you have together, and also any other court cases between you and your ex.
Section 2: Financial details
The second section asks about your financial details. This is separated into 10 parts.
Part 1 is about property and personal assets that you own. This includes the last family home you and your ex-partner lived in together if you owned it and if it has not been sold yet, as well as all other properties you own or part-own. You then have to list all your bank, building society and other savings accounts, investments, life policies, any money that other people owe to you, cash and personal belongings worth £500 or more for each item. So that could include jewellery, cars, computers or gadgets, even down to individual items of furniture.
In part 2, you need to list your liabilities, so money you owe on credit cards, loans, any hire purchase agreements you have. You also have to consider here whether you would have to pay any capital gains tax if you had to sell any of the property you listed in part 1. This is an area where you might need specialist financial advice.
Parts 3 to 5 are about all of your business interests, your pensions, and any other assets that have not already been mentioned.
Parts 6 and 7 are about your earned income, either from employment or self-employment or partnerships.
Parts 8 to 10 cover income from investments, state benefits including state pension and child benefit, and then any other income that was not covered in the previous questions.
Section 3: Financial needs for the future
In Section 3, you are asked about the income that you currently need to live on. This includes the income that you need for yourself and the children that will be living with you, and also other income that you need for your children over and above day-to-day living expenses.
You then have to think about what your capital needs are – e.g., if you will be selling your family home, how much you will realistically need from the proceeds for a suitable house, car, etc.
If you expect your income needs will change in the future, you have to explain why.
Section 4: Other information
You explain in Section 4 significant changes in your assets or income over the past 12 months, and if you think there are likely to be significant changes in the following 12 months. You have the chance to explain the standard of living you used to have while you were married – e.g., how often you went on holiday, whether you regularly upgraded your cars, etc – and explain other circumstances that you want the court to consider in making their decision. This could be, for example, if one of you made a larger contribution to your family property or assets, if you had assets that you don’t think should be viewed as part of the marriage, or if you gave up work to look after your children, or if either of you is expecting an inheritance, redundancy, retirement, or any similar significant life events.
If you have subsequently remarried, formed a civil partnership, or are living with someone, or intend to, you also have to give brief details of your new partner’s income, assets and liabilities.
Section 5: Orders requested and statement of truth
Finally, you are asked to give the court an indication of the sorts of orders you are asking them to make, then you have to sign the statement of truth confirming that the information you have given is a full, frank, clear and accurate disclosure of your circumstances.
You also have to provide documentation to prove or support the information you have given in the various sections of the form, and there is a checklist to detail what you need to send.
As you will have probably realised, this is not a straightforward process to go through at all. It is nearly always better to reach an agreement with your ex through mediation than having to ask the courts to make the decision. You would almost certainly have to use a solicitor to help you complete the form accurately and to persuasively present your case in court.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team 0113 468 9593 to find out how mediation can help you achieve a fair and acceptable outcome to the difficult question of how to divide your assets without having to resort to lengthy, expensive, and often acrimonious court action.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to complete a Form E if I am getting divorced?
You usually will not need to go through the ordeal of completing a Form E when you divorce. Most people manage to come to an agreement without having to ask the courts to decide. Mediation is usually a very effective and cost-effective way of doing this. Form E is only compulsory if the court is making the decision itself rather than confirming an agreement you have already reached.
What if we are using mediation? Do I still have to complete one of these forms?
If you and your ex have decided to use mediation through Direct Mediation Services to agree your financial arrangements, we will not ask you to complete a full Form E because we realise how stressful and complicated this is. We will ask you to complete our own version of a full disclosure of your financial circumstances, which you should find less difficult to complete. We still emphasise to both of you that you need to be completely open in disclosing everything.
I don’t trust my ex to be totally honest. What can I do?
This is a difficult situation. We cannot force people to make full disclosure as the courts can. If you are convinced that your ex-partner has assets that they will not disclose willingly, your only option would be to apply to the court for them to make the decision, in which case they would order your ex to complete a Form E. You would also have to complete a Form E of your own. In this situation, you would definitely need legal advice about how you should proceed and legal representation to present your case in court and, if necessary, challenge what your ex says in court.
How can I avoid having to complete a Form E?
You need to agree all the financial arrangements around your divorce with your ex. This can often be a very difficult conversation to have when you are finding it difficult to communicate with each other through your separation. Mediation is often the best and cheapest way to keep your discussions focused and come to an agreement you can both live with. The agreement you reach through mediation can be made just as legally binding as if a court makes the decision, with much less complicated paperwork.
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