What is a Form E in divorce?
A Form E is a court document used in financial proceedings on divorce in the UK setting out your financial position. It is a financial statement which shows your assets, liabilities, expenditure and income. It also sets out what you are trying to achieve within the divorce proceedings and why.
A Form E is possibly the most important document you will complete within the proceedings because it sets out the backbone of your entire case.
This article sets out to answer the most frequently asked questions.
Is Form E compulsory in divorce?
Yes, a Form E is compulsory in all financial proceedings on divorce. Both parties must complete this document, in full and on time. If you do not, then you could be subjected to various penalties including costs orders or being found in contempt of court.
What happens if spouse refuses to complete Form E?
If your spouse refuses to complete their Form E, then you run the risk of the first court hearing being effective. This has the obvious impact of causing delay and incurring additional costs.
Without a Form E, you will not know their financial position, and in turn, will not be able to understand what the complete “household” position is. This inevitably means that you cannot decide how to fairly split the assets.
Judges will not take kindly to someone refusing to file a completed Form E. A judge will also be very critical of someone who has completed the document, but has not completed it correctly.
If asked, a judge will usually be happy to make orders against a person who has failed to file a Form E. At the very least, the judge will make adverse inferences against someone who has failed to provide full information.
How long do I have to complete Form E?
You normally have 2-3 months to complete your Form E from the date that you are notified of the proceedings.
Once financial proceedings on divorce are issued, you will receive three dates from the court that MUST be complied with as follows:
- A date to file your Form E
- A date to file your Practice Direction documents
- A date for the first hearing
Depending on how busy the court is will depend on how far away the court hearing is. The average time from the date the application is issued to the date that you have to file your form E is between 2–3 months. The average time from the date the application is issued to the date that you have your first hearing is 3-4 months.
What do I include in a Form E?
You must include all relevant information in a Form E. You must also attach relevant documents where they have been asked for, including bank statements, mortgage statements, valuations of properties, pension valuations, payslips, tax returns and evidence of liabilities.
These documents should be attached at the end of their Form E and should be organised so that they are easily cross referenced with the main part of the form.
What happens if you lie on your form E?
If you lie on your Form E, you could be found in contempt of court, have a costs order made against you or be financially penalised when making the order to decide the case. It may also mean that any order the court makes could be set aside.
When you are completing a Form E, there is a very clear notice on the first page setting out your obligations when filling out this form.
It sets out that you have a duty to the court to give a full, frank, and clear disclosure of all your financial and other relevant circumstances. If you are found to have been deliberately untruthful, criminal proceedings could be brought against you. Proceedings for contempt of court could also be brought against you.
The repercussions are very serious, and therefore, it is very important to ensure that you provide accurate and full information in your Form E.
How do I get a Form E?
You can get a Form E from the court website.
Alternatively, you can contact a solicitor who will be able to either help you prepare the form or prepare the form for you. You will need to be able to provide all of the documents to support your Form E as your solicitor will not be able to prepare the document without them.