If a couple is divorcing and cannot agree on a financial settlement or one of the parties is not fully engaging in negotiations, it may be necessary to issue financial proceedings to move things along. The process that must be followed is the completion of the financial document knows as a Form E financial disclosure by both parties, followed by a First Directions Appointment (FDA).
An FDA is the first court hearing that the parties will attend in relation to the financial proceedings for their divorce. This hearing sets the timetable and directions for the parties to ensure resolution of any issues and to help the parties to reach an agreement that is acceptable to them both with the help of the court.
Form E – what is it and how do I complete it?
Form E is a fairly lengthy document used to ensure that both parties are giving full and frank disclosure about their financial situation. Each spouse must provide information about all of their assets, including bank accounts, investments, income and pensions. Documentary evidence must be provided in support of the Form to show that full disclosure has been given. Each party should detail their needs and contributions to the marriage for consideration. The parties will also need to give a schedule of costs that includes the details of their legal fees to that date for consideration by the judge.
The completion of Form E is compulsory when the matter is going to be resolved by the courts. It does not have to be used if the parties can mutually agree on the financial matters between themselves, but it is advised in these circumstances to exchange Form Es as a basis for reaching an agreement.
Completing the Form E
It is essential to make sure that the Form is completed fully with as much detail as possible. If the court finds that a party has not made full and frank disclosure, then this can have a serious impact on the settlement arrangements.
Form E contains guidance to assist with completing the Form, but this is quite basic and can result in parties not completing the Form with enough detail or providing all relevant information. Taking expert legal advice before completing the Form will ensure that it is properly completed and offer peace of mind during what is understandably a stressful period.
The parties exchange the Form E simultaneously to ensure that neither party can change the information on their Form as a result of what the other spouse has written. The parties must also provide a chronology containing any relevant events with dates as well as a statement of issues for the court to consider. These are sometimes referred to as the First Appointment documents.
It will be necessary for both parties to go through the other spouse’s Form E and prepare a list of questions about their financial disclosure. This is called a questionnaire and in situations where disclosure has been complete and the financial situation of the parties is relatively straightforward, it may not be needed. However, in situations where there are complicated financial matters or if disclosure has not been done fully, the questionnaire can become lengthy.
The First Directions Appointment
The First Directions Appointment is a short hearing conducted in a private room with a judge, lawyers and their clients. The purpose of the meeting is for the judge to determine if any other information is needed before a meaningful negotiation can take place to work towards a settlement in relation to financial matters.
What orders can be made at the FDA?
At this hearing the judge can make various orders, for example, it may be that there is an order for the valuation of assets if there is a dispute over value and this will generally be one expert whose costs are shared between the two parties. In some cases, separate experts can be instructed by each party.
The parties can also be ordered to make further disclosure when the information that has been provided in the Form E is either unclear or incomplete. There will be a specific timeframe during which this will need to be done. This is why it is so important to make sure that there is full and frank disclosure in the Form E to prevent any delays or issues arising.
Contact our Divorce Lawyers, London
Our family lawyers can advise you on the situations where a Form E is appropriate and the necessary steps that need to be completed. We completely understand how stressful it can be going through a divorce and will ensure that we keep you frequently updated and advise you on your personal circumstances to ensure the best outcome. Contact us today on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form.