Form E (Finances)

“…Have you seen this Form E I have been asked to complete – it’s huge and wants to know everything about me and then more. I don’t even know what he has and as for me I haven’t got anything – why do I need to do this?”

The Form E or Financial Statement looks formidable with its 26 pages or so, but in reality, it is not as bad as all that. It is a form that seeks financial information which includes all assets including property, bank accounts, investments, pensions and income and liabilities to be provided with supporting documents. It provides essential information enabling informed negotiations and processes to begin and progress.

In the course of a divorce application, formal financial proceedings once the application (a Form A) is issued by the court will set a timetable requiring documentation to be prepared in advance of the first court hearing. The first of these tasks is the preparation of Form E. In a voluntary process (where there is no formal application made) or in utilising other forms of dispute resolution such as mediation it remains the fundamental foundation document which will provide the necessary information and set the path to discussions, negotiations and hopefully settlement.

The exchange of Forms E is a mutual requirement, each party receiving the others. It identifies all assets whether held in sole name or those held in joint names. If you have no idea what your partner’s assets are, then Form E will provide you with that information.

You will hear the words ‘full and frank’ disclosure on a number of occasions as you work through the process. It is only with full and frank disclosure being provided by both parties that there can be any informed and reasoned negotiations to hopefully move towards bringing matters to an agreed settlement at the earliest opportunity.

Early settlement is undoubtedly cost-effective but also importantly it provides a sweeter taste for all concerned. It avoids an order being imposed by a Judge, it gives couples control of the process. To be able to agree on a settlement you need to be aware of what’s in the ‘pot’. The Form E therefore can be seen as onerous and a pain to complete, but the gain of doing so is to open the door to negotiations.

It is so important to take care and sufficient time to complete this process. If you skimp on the preparation of the Form E, you will be asked questions about the disclosure (or lack of disclosure) and you may well start to close the door to negotiations before they’ve even started. It could fuel mistrust and be a bar to progress.   

It is not an overnight Form but one that needs a bit of time and perhaps a strong black coffee to open it but once you start it really won’t bite.

By Nicki


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