When a couple is going through a divorce, one of the areas that often causes the most difficulty is the financial arrangements. Where the matter is being dealt with by the courts, the parties must complete Form E financial disclosure. This is a financial statement that details all the relevant information for a decision to be made on how the finances will be split.
It is expected that both parties will provide full and frank disclosure about their assets, liabilities and debts, pension, income, a current valuation of owned properties, bank details, investments, insurance, any capital gains and business assets as well as what their income needs are.
These are complicated documents and it is recommended that you get legal advice when completing one to make sure it is done correctly. The process can be time consuming, but it is very important that it is done properly to ensure there are no future delays that will increase the cost of the divorce.
Here, we look at some of the common mistakes that can arise when completing a Form E.
What are some common mistakes when completing Form Es?
All parties must ensure they have disclosed all relevant information and provided the necessary evidence to support their claims. However, there common pitfalls that can arise.
Refusal to complete a Form E on the request of the Court
However difficult, frustrating, or time consuming it is to complete a Form E, it is a requirement of the divorce process being dealt with by the Court. Failure to do so can have serious repercussions such as costs orders being made against you and even imprisonment if there is repeated refusal to comply with the order.
If the matter is not being dealt with by the courts and the request is voluntary by the other spouse, this should still be complied with. Refusal here will undoubtedly result in the other spouse applying for a financial remedy via the courts, which will increase the time and costs for the divorce to be finalised and generally result in a compulsory order for a Form E to be completed.
Partial or incomplete disclosure on the Form E
You must include all the relevant information that has been requested and also ensure that you supply the appropriate supporting documentation evidence. Failure to do this will result in the other party having to draft a long questionnaire in response to your Form E requesting this additional information. The Court can also order you to provide it and the fact there was incomplete disclosure will mean that the other party and the Court are less likely to believe you are trustworthy, which could affect the division of finances.
Out of date documentary evidence
When supplying the supporting documentary evidence, it is really important that you provide the most up to date information and that it covers the relevant period (for example, bank statements will need to be for the last twelve months). It is also important that any valuation of assets and property is current and also realistic so that it does not lead to further questions and investigations if it is shown to be out of date or over/underinflated.
Leaving it to the last minute
Don’t leave completing the Form to the last minute- it is a lengthy document and some of the supporting evidence will take time to obtain, for example, pension valuations. It is strongly advisable to start completing the Form and collecting the evidence as soon as possible in the process to make sure that everything is correctly covered. Again, if items are missed or not properly supported, this can lead to a delay in the process that can become costly.
It is also important to be aware that while you understand your finances, the other party and the Court will not have the same understanding. So it is really necessary to be as clear and detailed as possible.
Complying with all requirements
When you have completed the Form E, you have to sign a statement to say that you have given full, frank, clear and accurate disclosure of your financial and other circumstances. There is a warning here that anyone making a false statement on the Form may face Contempt of Court charges. This highlights how important it is to comply with the requirements of Form E- not only to make sure that matters are not delayed resulting in increasing costs but also to prevent legal actions arising due to non-compliance.