Is Form E Compulsory in Divorce?

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Splitting your property and assets is likely to be one of the most important and, potentially, contentious areas of your divorce. While some couples are able to divide their assets between themselves, others have to ask a judge to make the decision.

Whichever route you choose, ensuring that there is honest disclosure of assets is a critical part of this process. It’s important to be frank about any cash, savings, property or assets that you own.

One of the ways to provide this disclosure is by using a document called ‘Form E’. This is an essential part of any court process where a financial order is required, but many couples also use it as part of a private negotiation.

Form E is an official document that asks you to complete details of your:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Pensions
  • Expenditure
  • Financial needs

It also asks you to highlight any changes to your future financial situation that you are aware of, and to outline the financial needs of your children. You can also include details of the financial order you are seeking.

If you want to obtain a financial order from the Court, a Form E is compulsory. If the other party has requested such an order then you will have to fill in a Form E. Both parties should complete this form as this outlines the financial situation of each spouse. It enables the Court to come to a fair decision based on your financial situation.

Even if you are not going through the court process it can be of benefit to complete a Form E. By providing full disclosure it makes it easier for each party to negotiate a fair settlement. A solicitor may suggest that you complete a Form E on an informal basis simply as it provides an excellent way to disclose your financial position.

Your solicitor can provide you with a Form E, or you can obtain a blank form from the government website.

What happens if my spouse won’t complete a Form E?

As we saw above, a Form E is compulsory if one or both parties are seeking a financial order from the Court. In this case, you will both be required to provide the detailed financial information on Form E.

The front page of Form E outlines the repercussions if you do not complete the form fully and accurately:

“A failure to give full and accurate disclosure may result in any order the court makes being set aside. If you are found to have been deliberately untruthful, criminal proceedings may be brought against you for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006…Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person who makes or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth.”

If your spouse refuses to complete a Form E then it is possible for criminal proceedings to be brought against them.

A 2015 case in which a spouse repeatedly failed to complete a Form E, despite requests from the Court, saw a judge agree that the party had ‘wilfully breached’ the order and gave the party a suspended prison sentence. Failure to meet the Court’s final demand for completion of Form E would have resulted in a 14 day custodial sentence.

Is there anything we should consider if we’re not using a Form E in our divorce?

If you are not seeking a financial order from the Court then it is not essential that you complete a Form E. However, doing so is recommended as it ensures that both parties make an honest disclosure of their financial situation on divorce.

If you are able to agree a settlement between you, with or without a Form E, it is generally recommended that you formalise this in a consent order. This consent order is then approved by the Court and it makes your agreement legally binding.

If you don’t formalise your financial agreement in a consent order, your partner could make a financial claim against you in the future.

 


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