How to complete a Form E
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. The form is available online at the HM Courts & Tribunal Service website along with some guidance notes that you might want to print off so that you can refer to them when you are completing the form. Whilst the form is daunting at first glance, most people are able to tackle it well. My advice is to do it in small chunks rather than trying to tackle the whole thing in one sitting. You might find it useful to go through and identify the information you are going to need to gather so that you can complete the form.
Who completes a Form E?
Both parties to the divorce complete a Form E and these are then exchanged, reviewed and used to provide the factual information which will help to reach an agreeable financial settlement between the parties. You can ask your solicitor to complete the Form E on your behalf, however most solicitors will encourage you to complete a draft version of the form on your own in the first instance - that is because you will have access to the relevant information. The more information you can obtain without involving your lawyer, the cheaper this process will be. Even if your case is not in Court, you might be asked to complete a Form E. It provides such a comprehensive way of showing your financial information that many solicitors will ask you to complete one if you are trying to reach an agreement amicably, without asking the Court to get involved. This is known as voluntary financial disclosure.
Do I have to complete a Form E?
If the case is in Court, then it is compulsory to complete a Form E. The Court will send out an order which will specify how long you have to do this. Usually, you have at least 6 weeks to complete and return the form. However, we always advise clients not to leave it until the last minute as some of the information required will not be at your fingertips and may require you to request reports from your bank or pension provider - for example, to obtain pension transfer values.
Do I have to complete all of the questions?
It is important that you complete the Form E fully and accurately. You have a duty to the Court to provide the information it requests. As the form states, if you are found to have been deliberately untruthful criminal proceedings may be brought against you for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.
What information does the form gather?
The opening section of the form gathers general information about you, your children and your living arrangements. Section 2 goes on to gather financial details starting with a series of questions about the property you own. You need to complete the sections to show your share of the family home. In this section, you will need to include details of your mortgage company, the amount of mortgage outstanding, the property value and the estimated costs of sale. Next you are asked for details about your bank accounts and other savings and investments. You should include all details for accounts in your name, or joint accounts held with your partner or anybody else. You should also include details of any monies owed to you, insurance policies, high values of cash and personal belongings as shown on the form. The Court will expect you to provide documentary evidence to support all of the figures you include. It is clear in many places what is expected from you and the guidance notes are really helpful in explaining the amount of paperwork you should supply. If you complete the form accurately and supply the attachments needed, it will help to keep costs to a minimum. The form goes on to ask for details about any liabilities you have, bank loans, credit cards and higher purchase agreements and also any capital gains tax liability on the disposal of any of your personal assets. If you are unclear how to answer this question, you should raise it with your lawyer or seek help from a financial advisor.
Details of your business interests must be included in section 2.11 and you will be required to include copies of your business accounts for the last 2 years as well as details of any directorships you hold
The form also gathers details about your pension entitlement. You are required to include details of all pensions except the basic state pension and to support this section, you will normally need to include a recent statement showing the value of your pension which you will need to obtain from the pension provider, or your employer if it is an occupational pension scheme. Part 5 of the form collects details of any other assets not captured elsewhere. This includes things like share options, trust interests and any assets held on your behalf by a third party. There is a reminder here to disclose all assets and interests of any nature. Failure to do so, is not only illegal, it can be treated as fraud, but is also likely to be spotted when we exchange forms with your spouse.
Parts 6 to 10 gather income information, be it from employment, self-employment, pensions or any other income. Be sure to complete all sections that relate to your personal circumstances. Having completed Parts 1 to 10, you should be able to complete the financial details summaries page. If you do this online, it will do it for you.
Income and capital needs
Section 3 of the Form E gathers details about your income and capital needs and the needs of any children living with you. You would include things like housing, car expenses and financial payments, or say a car or household goods being purchased on credit. The final two sections provide you with an opportunity to note any other significant information relating to your finances which might have a bearing on your case. This includes a section in which you are asked to provide brief details about the standard of living you enjoyed as a couple, as well as circumstances you might feel significantly effect the extent of financial provision made. Section 5 is normally completed by your solicitor as this is the section that explains to the Court what it is that you are asking for by way of financial remedy. You should discuss this section with your solicitor so that you understand fully what options are available and the most appropriate approach for you to take. There is a tick sheet after the signing 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 the bank statements are in date order and appear after the house and mortgage details. Don’t attempt to slot the documentary evidence into the form, everything must go at the back. If you need advice on coming to a financial settlement with your spouse, or need help completing a Form E, contact Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or visit www.family-lawfirm.co.uk.