What is a Form E Divorce – and do I need to do one?
Form E Divorce is a financial statement used in divorce proceedings in the UK. It is a document that sets out the financial position of each party in a divorce case and is used to help the court make decisions about financial settlements. It is sometimes called a Form E Financial Statement, an E Form or more commonly, a Form E. You can download the latest Form E here.
A Form E is an in-depth questionnaire – currently 29 pages long – and requires various documented proofs for each asset or liability you have. It will take several hours to complete.
Here are the most common questions we are asked at Mediate UK about Divorce Form E
Is it compulsory to complete a Form E for every divorce?
Completion of a Form E is very much dependent on the stage you are with the divorce and how you are agreeing the financial arrangements:
1. If you are discussing matters amicably between yourselves, you don’t need to complete a Form E, unless you want to. You would subsequently need to make a financial disclosure on a Form D81, if you want your financial agreement made legally binding, but you don’t need to compete Form E’s for this process. This method tends to be used when there are few assets; the situation is amicable and both parties have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the whole financial situation of the relationship. Read more about this in our Guide to the new Form D81 here.
2. If you are discussing matters through family mediation. Each family mediation service operates differently, but at Mediate UK we have our own financial disclosure spreadsheets, which are used by 90% of our clients by agreement. This is because the spreadsheets are easier to complete and still accepted by the court as a financial disclosure. However, if one party wants to use a Form E instead, we then ask that both parties will need to complete a Form E to disclose their financial positions.
3. If you use solicitors to negotiate an agreement, then they will usually request that a Form E is completed. This may not always be necessary and you should discuss this with your solicitor first. A Form E will allow both parties’ solicitors to consider the whole financial picture and ask questions on the disclosure. If you are using a solicitor, they will normally complete the form for you, based on the financial information and documents that you have provided to them.
4. If you are going to court for a financial order you will need to complete a Form E as this will be required by the court. Failure to complete a Form E at this stage could be seen as contempt of court and could lead to legal costs being made against you and the court apportioning finances to you that they believe you have based on the evidence from the other party. So by this stage in proceedings, yes, a Form E is compulsory.
My ex won’t complete a Form E – what can I do?
If your ex will not make a voluntary disclosure on a Form E you have two options to proceed:
- You could agree to do a voluntary disclosure via another method (eg spreadsheets) or you can apply to court for a financial order. The court will request Form E’s are then completed by both of you.
- Because of this, at Mediate UK if one party for asks for a Form E and the other party ask for a spreadsheet disclosure, we will request both parties complete Form Es. As the next step is to go to court where Form E’s will need to be produced anyway.
When should I complete a Form E?
The general guidance is that the sooner you both complete Form E’s, the sooner you can go on to reach a fair financial agreement. So there are advantages to getting it all sorted as soon as possible and allow you to move on with your life.
In family mediation, we ask that you have completed a financial disclosure on our spreadsheets, or on a Form E before you come in for your first joint mediation session on finances. There are some exceptions to this, for example if you want to discuss an urgent financial matter, upcoming bill or to have a discussion about the general financial overview first of all.
At this first session you will disclose, discuss and ultimately agree the financial disclosure. This is an important step in the process to reaching an agreement. Even if you do not reach agreement through mediation, agreeing just the disclosure through family mediation is significantly cheaper than doing the same exercise through solicitors.
If you are going to court, you will be requested to complete a Form E before the first hearing (usually at least 5 weeks in advance of the hearing). If you do not provide the required information then a penal notice can be applied for and issued by the court. It is best not to be seen to frustrate the process as this can have implications on legal costs.
OK, I need to complete a Form E – how do I do that?
Here is a general guide to completing Form E:
Here you complete the details of each party, who is applying for the order and who is the respondent. It also includes important information about the statement of truth and that you may be committing fraud if you are deliberately dishonest on the form.
This area deals with your name, date of birth, children, health concerns, living arrangements, children’s education and any existing court cases. It is important you take the time to complete this section as accurately as possible based on your current situation.
Financial Details Part 1:
This part deals with your properties, land, bank accounts, savings, money owed to you and any other assets over £500. Yes, you need to list everything with a current value over £500, so would usually include your car, possible a laptop or other electronic equipment and even some furniture. You need to get the land registry number of any property, which you can get by calling your mortgage company or you can get a copy of the deed for £3 through the land registry here.
Don’t complete this part if you have already sold the house. Any proceeds from a sale will usually be listed under your savings for example.
Financial Details Part 2:
Here you will list any liabilities (other than mortgages or bank overdrafts). So you would include credit cards or loans here. You can also include any capital gains you may have to pay if you dispose of one of your assets listed in Part 1.
Financial Details Part 3:
This deals with any Business assets and directorships. You will need to list any directorships held in the previous 12 months.
Financial Details Part 4:
This section deals with Pensions. You should have obtained a Cash Equivalent for each private pension you hold. If you have not already done so, you should request one now from your pension provider(s). If your pension is not in payment, they have to give you a free valuation each year, but have up to 3 months to get this figure to you.
Financial Details Part 5:
This part allows you to disclose any asset that you own, monies held by someone else on your behalf or work share schemes. It’s basically a chance to make sure you have disclosed everything that does not fit into any of the previous 4 sections.
Financial Details Part 6-10:
Income. These sections deal with all income you have. This may be from employment, self-employment, benefits (including child benefit or state pension) interest, income from investments or any other source of income.
Financial Details Summaries:
These two tables show the total of each category of asset you own, and a table to show your total income for the next 12 months.
Section 3 deals with your Financial Requirements.
It is important to fairly lay out your income needs and your capital needs based on your situation and your forecasted needs moving forwards.
Section 4 deals with the Other Information.
This is where you details any significant future changes to your finances or explain any significant changes that have already taken place. It also allows you to complete what are sometimes referred to as the Section 25 responses, allowing you to lay out details of the standard of living during the relationship and contributions made. You also need to include income and assets of any person you are currently living with or intend to move in with shortly.
Section 5 deals with the type of order sought.
This includes requesting, for example, a clean break, a pension sharing order or a property transfer order.
Statement of truth.
It is important you do not try to hide assets or income on a Form E. if you are caught the court will take a dim view and you can end up with costs awarded against you and come out with a worse financial order than you would have done had you been honest from the start. You may also be committing fraud, which is a criminal offence.
Schedule of Documents to accompany Form E
This section allows you to list the documents or proofs that you need to accompany your disclosure. The level of proof here is higher than most other forms of disclosure. For example you need to provide 12 months’ worth of bank statements for each bank account that has been in your name or to which you have any interest in.
Given the complexity of the Form E we recommend you take legal advice on its completion and ideally have an experienced family law solicitor complete it for you – especially if your matter is going to court. Costs will vary for this, but an average cost will be £750 to £1,000 plus VAT to complete the Form E on your behalf (approximately 3-4 hours work).
If you are completing a Divorce Form E yourself, then we recommend following this guide provided by Advice Now.
Mediate UK offer a FREE 15 minute consultation for any clients who have questions about the mediation process and how financial disclosure fits into this.
Form E – the highlights:
- Compulsory for court and usually completed for solicitor-led negotiation
- By agreement, you can disclose finances on a Mediate UK spreadsheet instead
- You are signing a statement of truth to the court – so it is important you are accurate
- Valuations must be as up to date as possible
- Proof of all assets and liabilities are required to accompany the document
I don’t want to complete a Form E, do I have to?
If your matter ends up at court, the court will request you complete one, so it is important that you do at this stage. Otherwise you could face being penalised by the court. But the court also want to check you have you have acted reasonably and responsibly in trying to reach an agreement. And completing a Form E on request is part of that process. If you have ended up at court because you have refused to complete a Form E to date, then you could be told to pay the other sides’ costs (as well as your own). See our blog here for more information on acting reasonably and responsibly.
Why do I need to disclose everything? Some of my assets are not part of the marriage.
A Form E shows your current financial position. It must include every assets, liability and source of income you have or expect to have. That does not necessarily mean that asset is counted as an asset of the marriage, or will be shared equally as part of the financial order. But not disclosing everything could be a contempt of court and, in serious cases, you could be imprisoned if you do not do so.
What if my ex lies on a Form E?
If you have reason to believe an ex has lied on their Form E, you should take good legal advice. You can also discuss the disclosure in family mediation and ask for various proofs through the financial mediation process as well. However if your ex continues to lie or refuses to show reasonable requests of proof, then you will probably need to make an application to court on a Form A, having conducted a MIAM first of all or shown that mediation has broken down.
We both agree we don’t want to do a Form E, what can we do instead?
If you want to have a legally binding agreement, then you will need a financial consent order. For this, the minimum requirement is a financial disclosure on a Form D81. This includes the total of all assets over £500, properties, pensions and liabilities. But it does not include a breakdown of those totals. You can find out more about the different types of financial disclosure in our Ultimate Guide here.
What if my financial circumstances change after I have completed and signed the Form E.
You are required to update the other party and the court of any changes to your financial disclosure until a final order is made. Also, when you complete a D81 form for an financial order by consent (ie you have reached an agreement outside of court) the figures used in this must be up to date at the point of signing. So if your finances have changed since you completed the Form E, you will need to let the other party and the court know.
How can I prove my ex has been dishonest on a Form E?
It is harder these days to hide assets as most transactions are recorded electronically. The court does not have access to financial institutions’ records themselves and if needs be, will apportion a value of an asset based on their best judgement. If you believe that assets have been hidden, you can request a financial investigation. This is usually arranged through a solicitor and will cost in the region of £7,000 to £12,000 – so you need to be confident that there is a discrepancy to investigate.
What are the implications of not disclosing assets on a Form E?
If you hide assets on a Form E or are deliberately dishonest you could face any of the following:
- It makes it unlikely that your will agree a financial settlement without going to court if you do not make a full, open and honest disclosure. (This means it will take longer and cost more for your divorce).
- You will likely be ordered to pay the other parties’ legal costs
- You may receive less from the financial order than if you had been open and honest
- You could be ordered at any stage to return to court and have your financial agreement set aside, even many years after your divorce has finished and the whole process re-started. It is likely you will be liable for the costs of this.
- You could even be imprisoned
If you are completing a Form E divorce, then it is recommended to get good legal advice or help before hand. And you must be accurate and honest in doing so. The downside of getting caught being dishonest, usually far outweighs any perceived benefit of hiding assets.
You can book a FREE 15-minute consultation with Mediate UK if you want to find out more about a financial disclosure as part of a divorce settlement and how family mediation can help you reach a fair agreement. You will normally need to show the court you have at least considered mediation by attending a MIAM and having a Form A completed by your family mediator.