A Form E is the compulsory document you are required to fill out if you are making a formal application to the court to sort out financial arrangements during a divorce.
Whilst the form is daunting at first glance, most people are able to tackle it. I always suggest that clients do it in small chunks, rather than trying to complete the whole form in one go.
The Form E is available online on the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website, along with some Guidance notes.
The Form does request quite a lot of details and you might wonder why you are being asked for some of the information. However, it is important that the form is completed as fully and accurately as possible, in fact if you are producing the form to submit to the court you are under a legal obligation to provide full and frank disclosure and failure to do so could result in sanctions, including criminal proceedings for fraud if you are deliberately untruthful. A recent case covered in an earlier blog (Honesty is the best policy) illustrated just how high the financial penalties can be.
As it can seem somewhat complicated it’s worth bearing in mind these simple tips:
Tip 1 – Plan ahead
It’s worthwhile quickly reading through the form to check what information you will need to supply as you may need to request this from third parties. For example, you may need a valuation on your house, you will need bank statements and records of any savings and investments that you hold, as well as a statement of your pension entitlement. Some of this information can take a while to be produced so my advice is to request it straight-away, so that there is no danger of missing the court deadline for returning your completed form.
Tip 2 - Get the property details right
A common mistake people make is to include details of property belonging to their spouse. You only need to include the details of any property where your name is on the deeds. If a property is owned in joint names, you should say so, and then when it asks about your interest, you should state the figure equivalent to 50% - even if you feel you are entitled to more.
The court will expect you to provide documentary evidence to support all the figures that you include. The form is clear in many places about what is expected from you and the guidance notes are really helpful about the amount of paperwork you should supply.
Tip 3 – Don’t provide more than is asked for
Providing too much irrelevant material is just as bad as providing too little. If you provide lots of unwanted information, your solicitor will need to spend time going through it. If you miss parts out you will be chased for the missing documents and there could be a costly delay in your case.
If you complete the form accurately and supply the attachments needed, it will help keep costs to a minimum.
Tip 4 – Get your form to your solicitor in good time
To ensure that your solicitor has time to check over and correct any mistakes, make sure that you let them have your final draft at least 10 days before the filing date. This should allow time for you to re-sign or provide any missing information if needed.
Tip 5 – Don’t send original documents
Keep hold of your original documents and instead include a copy of all the relevant paperwork. You may be required to produce the originals at a later date.
There is a tick sheet after the signature page for you to confirm which documents are attached. Another great tip for keeping costs down is to make sure that the attachments are clearly labelled and in the order they appear on the form (for example, make sure bank statements are in date order and appear after the house and mortgage details. Do not slot the documentary evidence into the form – everything must go at the back.)
Tip 6 – Don’t forget to sign
And finally, don’t forget to sign and date the form once it is complete and before submitting it for the final time to your solicitor or direct to the court.
Divorce & family law solicitor, Burton upon Trent