Form E Divorce Solicitors
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What is a Form E?
Working out the financial arrangements can be very overwhelming and complicated for any couple going through a divorce. It is vital that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the full picture for a couples’s assest and any financial obligations to be divided fairly.
The courts only need to get involved when a divorcing couple are not able to agree on how their finances should be divided. In this case, each party involved will have to perform financial disclosure by completing a Form E.
This is something that needs to be completed by each party and is known as a financial statement. It covers income and assets as well as debts, needs and expenditure of both parties and any relevant children.
All of our financial settlement clients are offered a free initial meeting with no time limit.
Do I have to complete a Form E? and why is it so important?
It is only compulsory for Form E to be completed by each party if the divorcing couple are going through the courts to deal with their financial issues. This is to avoid the acrimony and costs of having to go to court.
Neither party can recieve proper advice of any settlement without an exchange of financial information first. In other words, before the matrimonial pot can be shared out, the size of it needs to be known and agreed upon beforehand.
If an application for a financial remedy (settlement) order is made to the court by either party, the court will have to automatically order both parties to disclose their finances and assets fully. These details will need to be filed with the court and exchanged with each other by a given date.
It makes sense to prepare and exchange this information as soon as possible using Form E.
If your instinct is telling you that assets have been hidden or the figures are not adding up, our in-house accountants are on hand to untangle finances, both personal and business, to identify any discrepancies, including revealing hidden assets and income.
What is the Form E process in a divorce?
Form E is quite a lengthy document and can appear quite intimidating but for the sake of both parties providing full and frank disclosure, the form needs to be thorough.
Both parties also need to give documentary evidence to support their form and then both of the forms are submitted simultaneously. Once this has been done, both parties can prepare a list of questions about the other party’s Form E (known as the questionnaire).
The questionnaire can potentially be lengthy if the initial financial disclosure was not completed properly in Form E or if the finances are complicated.
The next step would be to have the first court hearing which is called a First Directions Hearing and it will happen once both parties have completed the Form E.
In this initial hearing the judge will determine if there is any other information that is needed to ensure that a successful settlement agreement can be reached.
Though the parties do not give evidence at this hearing they can be asked to provide further disclosure where necessary.
What is covered on the Form E
The details that need to be added to the form include:
Assets over a certain amount
Bank accounts and savings accounts
Life insurance policies
Mortgages, overdrafts and bank loans
Hire purchase agreements
Capital Gains Tax that would be owed on any assets
Any business assets and directorships
Needs of the party and any children
Schedule of costs including legal fees to date
On the form, the parties involved will also need to list any other relevant information including personal information such as any disabilities. This also includes information on the relationship such as contributions that they wish the court to take into account, relevant conduct in certain circumstances and the standard of living enjoyed during the relationship. Each party also needs to provide a detailed chronology on any relevant dates.
Our Divorce Form E and Financial Settlement Solicitors can help you
If the factors listed are all taken into account when completing a Form E, you are far more likely to avoid unnecessary delays, costs, and questions later on; our divorce lawyers can help you do precisely that.
Justin Law are skilled at negotiating financial settlements and settling financial disputes between parties – including the division of savings, assets and the family home. Avoid financial mistakes in your divorce with help from our expert lawyers and accountants
We offer a specialist approach for Form Es
Even though the form can look quite daunting, with the benefit of proper legal advice, there is no reason for it not being completed properly.
A poorly-drafted and presented Form E will take far more time to deal with and mean that the parties often have to ask for additional details in a questionnaire or ‘schedule of deficiencies’, incurring additional, unnecessary costs.
We can also confirm one party’s suspicions that the other party is not being forthright and maybe trying to hide assets or muddy the waters.
Justin Law clients benefit from our firm’s in-house forensic accountancy team. The team can be invaluable in preparing accurate Form Es, particularly where business assets are involved.
The forensic accountancy team can also help scrutinise the other party’s Form E and supporting documents and raise relevant questions if the information seems to be lacking or unclear. Our divorce and financial settlements solicitors will handle all of this for you.
Divorce and Form E client review
I want to say a massive, massive thank you to Harjas and Leigh.
They have both been excellent from day one, providing support and guidance in a way I could understand.
Their eye for detail is amazing. The team are warm, engaging and supportive – Nothing ever felt like to much.
Harjas has gone over and above to make sure he had all the information for my complex case to ensure I had the very best service. I would recommend him to anyone in a heart beat.
Thank you Harjas and Leigh, it’s an end to a very long and hard chapter. Having you in my corner made everything easier.
What are some common issues with a Form E?
Some typical issues that can arise include:
Form E can seem time-consuming, but it is a legal requirement and must be completed where the courts are involved. Refusal by either party to complete a Form E can have some very serious implications from a costs order being made against them to imprisonment for repeated refusals. Where the parties are trying to resolve a financial agreement between themselves, then one party can refuse to complete the Form E if the other party suggests using it. However, it is worth bearing in mind that this could lead to the other party applying for a financial remedy through the courts and will generally result in a compulsory Form E being requested by the court.
What if my ex-partner lies on their Form E?
If a party is not honest on the Form E, then it is possible for various actions to be taken to ensure that full and frank disclosure is obtained. This can range from a freezing order or injunction to prevent one of the parties from disposing or transferring assets to searching for hidden assets. It is also possible to appoint a forensic accountant to obtain a more accurate picture of the other party’s financial situation.
Partial or incomplete disclosure
If the reason for partial disclosure is that a party is trying to hide their true financial situation, then again there are methods to ensure complete disclosure is given. However, even an innocent partial or incomplete disclosure can be costly and result in delays.
Outdated documentary evidence
It is really important that all documentary evidence provided to support the Form E is current, since again this is necessary for full and frank disclosure. This includes ensuring any valuations of assets are recent to ensure there is a realistic overview. If this is not done, then it is more likely that the other side’s questionnaire will be lengthy and further investigations may be requested, which again is time consuming and costly.
Call our expert team today on 01753 325100
Our Form E Divorce solicitors will help you:
Avoid costly mistakes
Avoid financial uncertainty
Avoid losing what is rightfully yours
Avoid unnecessary delays
Form E guidance notes
1. Property Valuation
Including a current valuation of any properties owned is good practice but not obligatory unless one has been obtained within the last six months. Ideally, an up-to-date valuation is provided for all properties owned unless both parties fully agree on its current market value.
A further common omission is an up-to-date mortgage redemption statement, showing the amounts outstanding for any mortgages secured against the properties. These should always be obtained and should be current.
2. Bank Details
All bank accounts, building society accounts, and National Savings accounts held by either party over the previous 12 months, including joint accounts, must be fully detailed in Form E.
You will need to set out the name of the bank or building society, the type of account, the account number, the names of the account holders, the current balance, and that party’s share of that balance.
It is surprisingly common to find that bank accounts have not been disclosed, only revealed after questions have been raised later. Often bank statements are not provided for the necessary period – i.e. a full 12 months – or they are illegible, or certain periods are missing, or one statement merges into another statement, making it impossible to clarify what accounts are held and what the balances are.
To avoid this problem, draw up your bank details with professional help if possible. A family law firm can help you with this.
This includes PEPs, ISAs, TESSAs, National Savings, bonds, stocks, unit trusts, investment trusts, gilts, and other quoted securities.
These must be disclosed, giving the full name of the investment, the type of investment, the size of the holding, its current value, the names of all parties with an interest, and the current value of that party’s interest.
The key documentation required in support will be the last statement or dividend counterfoil for each investment.
All life assurance (endowment) policies must be disclosed even if they have no surrender value and payout on death only. If they do have a surrender value, that should be included.
Insurance and similar financial instruments can be more difficult to understand than regular income. As such, we recommend talking with family law solicitors and similar third-party professionals when filling in these sections of Form E.
Details of all monies owed to a party must be included, as well as all cash sums held more than £500. Similarly, all personal belongings individually worth more than £500 must be included too. Often valuable items of jewellery or family heirlooms are excluded when they should be disclosed.
All liabilities should be disclosed, with details of who the debt is owed to and the amount.
Interestingly, Form E does not require supporting documents to be provided for this. Ideally, these should be included to save time, as the other side is likely to request up-to-date statements for verification.
7. Capital Gains
If capital gains tax might be payable, then it is good practice and expected that a calculation should be included in Form E, as clearly this affects the net value of the assets.
As Justin Law has a forensic accountancy team, these calculations can be undertaken in-house; contact our family solicitors for more information today.
8. Business Assets
There are detailed sections of Form E for any business assets or directorships. These need to be completed with supporting documentation, including business accounts for the last two financial years and any documentation that values a party’s interest: either a formal valuation or otherwise, with all directorships held or having been held in the last 12 months detailed.
As the parties’ pensions are often valuable items in the pool of matrimonial assets, the court can consider these, so full details of all pensions need to be provided in Form E, together with an up-to-date cash equivalent (CE).
The CE is an important document that the court requires for the initial valuation of all pensions held. As they can take quite a long time to obtain from the pension provider, it is good to ask for these at a very early stage to avoid any delay in the proceedings.
Pension providers are obliged by law to provide this information and documentation to the pension scheme member, free of charge, annually. In certain cases, the cash equivalent may not be an adequate valuation.
In those cases, it may be necessary to obtain an actuarial report on the pensions held, but this would have to be ordered by the court at the first appointment hearing.
Parties to divorce must also fully declare their income from all sources, whether from employment, self-employment, a partnership, or investments – i.e. dividends, interest, rental income, state benefits, pensions, or any other source.
Supporting documentation must be provided for each type of income. So, for example, for PAYE employment, the P60 for the last financial year will be needed, along with the last three wage slips they received and the last form P11D if this is relevant.
11. Income Needs
Each party will also be required in their Form E to set out a schedule of their monthly or annual income needs, both for themselves and for any children, as well as their ‘capital needs’ – i.e. the funds they may require to purchase a property or replace a motor vehicle or undertake essential repairs on their home.
It is good practice to obtain details of several suitable properties similar to the former matrimonial home to assist the Court in establishing the costs related to that party’s housing needs. This is often not dealt with at an early stage, but it is preferable to do at the outset to establish housing needs.
12. Change in Circumstances
Other sections towards the end of Form E require details of any significant changes in assets or income over the preceding 12 months or in the following 12 months.
Further sections allow comments upon relevant factors such as contributions or inheritance prospects or conduct.
It should be remembered that in the case of the latter, only the most serious misconduct should be detailed and only if it is relevant to the financial issues at hand.
Whatever your legal requirements, our divorce and family law solicitors are on hand to provide clear, informed and professional advice.
Confidential, private and available 24 hours a day, weekends included.
Why not call us today on 01753 325100 to arrange your no obligation consultation?
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