Courts rely on financial disclosures when determining financial remedies in divorce and dissolution of civil partnership proceedings.
This guide to the Form E explains what Form E is, what information it requires parties to disclose, and the potential consequences of lying on Form E, including the consequences of lying about cohabiting on Form E.
What is financial statement Form E?
Financial statement Form E is the form that must be completed separately by each party having applied to the court to make a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. This is in addition to Form A, the application form itself, where Form E must be completed by each party prior to the first court appointment. Form E sets out a number of detailed questions pertaining to the financial circumstances of each party, and is typically regarded as the single most important document on an application for a financial remedy.
The court will send the parties details as to when the first appointment will be, typically around 12 to 16 weeks after the application for a financial order has been made. Form E must usually be filed and exchanged at least 35 days before the first hearing, together with a number of detailed documents in support. However, some of the evidence that must be included, such as valuations, can take several weeks or months to obtain. This means that advance preparation is key, ideally prior to issuing the application for a financial order.
Why is financial statement Form E needed?
When a marriage or civil partnership irretrievably breaks down, the couple will need to decide how to split the matrimonial or partnership finances. If agreement cannot be reached between the parties, an application will need to be made to the court to ask a judge to decide on the fairest way to divide the couple’s income and assets.
In the context of these proceedings, it is important for the court to fully understand the financial worth of each party to be able to fairly determine the division of income and assets. As such, to provide transparency, and so as to allow the court to make an order that is fair in all the circumstances, the parties must provide full and frank financial disclosure. This is the process by which both parties to either a marriage or civil partnership are required to file and exchange financial information in relation to their respective incomes and capital assets, as well as any other financial resources, which each has the benefit of.
This formal exchange of information is also designed to assist with out-of-court negotiations between the parties, typically facilitated through legal representation on either side, where this can be especially useful where the parties are unclear of each other’s financial worth.
What information must be disclosed on Form E?
Form E starts by asking for general information, in this way providing a context within which to place each party when the court is assessing their finances, including:
- their full name, date of birth and occupation
- the date of either the marriage or civil partnership
- the date of the couple’s separation
- the date of the application for divorce or dissolution
- the date of the conditional order, and final order, if applicable
- the date of any subsequent marriage or civil partnership
- whether or not the person is living with a new partner or intends to live with someone new within the next 6 months
- details of any children, including their names, dates of birth and with whom they live
- details of the state of health of the person completing the form, and the children of the family, if they think that this should be taken into account
- details of the present and any proposed educational arrangements for the children
- details of any calculation for child support, or any maintenance order or agreement made in respect of any children
- details of any other court cases between the parties, whether in relation to money, property, children or something else
- the present residence of the person completing the form, as well as the occupants of it and on what terms this property is occupied, for example, as a tenant or owner-occupier.
Form E then comprises several different sections, each designed to prompt the parties to disclose their total financial worth to the court. These include details of the following:
- any land and buildings owned: such as the family home and any mortgage, or an interest in any other property, land or buildings
- any personal assets: such as personal bank, building society and savings accounts;
- any investments, including stocks and shares;
- any life insurance policies;
- any money owed;
- all cash sums held in excess of £500;
- all personal belongings worth more than £500, including cars, collections, pictures, jewellery, furniture and house contents
- any liabilities: such as money owed on credit cards and store cards, as well as bank loans and hire purchase agreements, but excluding liabilities already shown
- an estimate of the Capital Gains Tax liability on the disposal of any property or personal assets
- any business assets: including details of all business interests, as well as any directorships currently held or held in the last 12 months
- any pensions and Pension Protection Fund (PPF) compensation: including all pension rights and PPF compensation entitlements, including any prospective entitlements
- any other capital assets: including any personal or business assets not otherwise disclosed, for example, any trust interests, or any asset held on the person’s behalf by a third party or any asset likely to be received in the foreseeable future
- any earned income from employment: including any bonuses and benefits in kind
- any income from self-employment or partnership: again including any benefits in kind
- any income from investments: including dividends, interest or rental income
- any income from state benefits: including child benefit or a state pension
- any other income: including any income received in the last 12 months, even if this has ceased, and any income likely to be received in the next 12 months
- a summary of capital assets: minus any liabilities
- a summary of estimated income: as assessed for the next 12 months.
Form E goes on to ask the party completing the form for an estimate of their income needs for themselves and for any children living with them, or provided for by them, including figures for housing, fuel, car expenses and holidays. This is followed by an estimate of any reasonable future capital needs, including housing and a car.
Form E also requests other information of any relevance. This includes details of any significant changes in either income or assets in the last 12 months or likely to occur in the next 12 months; the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage or civil partnership; any contributions to the family property and assets or outgoings that should be taken into account; any bad behaviour by the other party that should be taken into account, although when deciding how assets should be shared on divorce or dissolution the court will only have regard to conduct in very exceptional circumstances; and any other circumstances that could significantly affect the extent of any financial provision to be made by or for the person completing the form, or for any child of the family.
In respect of this last matter, the following circumstances could be relevant:
- earning capacity
- inheritance prospects
- any agreement made between the parties before or after their marriage or civil partnership, and whether or not this is now relied upon, with the reasons why
any plans to either marry or form a civil partnership, or to reside with someone new, with details, so far as they are known, of their new partner’s assets and liabilities
any contingent liabilities, such as pending litigation or any threat of insolvency.
Finally, the parties are asked to specify what kind of order each is asking the court to make, such as the transfer or sale of any property, and whether this is a case for continuing spousal maintenance and pension sharing, or if a clean break is sought. A ‘clean break’ means a court order which provides that neither party will have any further claim against the other, although this does not terminate the responsibility of any parent to a child.
What happens after Form E is exchanged?
Once Form E is exchanged, both parties will have an opportunity to consider their respective financial positions and, where at all possible, reach an agreement. If an agreement can be reached, the parties will need to draw up a draft consent order to be put before the court for approval. In this way, the agreement will be legally binding.
However, if agreement cannot be reached, the matter will proceed to a first appointment. There are three stages to financial remedy proceedings: a short first hearing with the judge to discuss the application; a financial dispute resolution appointment to provide a further opportunity for the parties to agree without the need for a final hearing and, if agreement cannot be reached; a final hearing at which stage a judge will decide, based on the evidence before the court, how to fairly divide the matrimonial or partnership finances.
What happens if Form E is not exchanged?
Any failure by either party to complete Form E can have serious implications, from a costs order being made against them to imprisonment for repeated refusals. The court can also make an order of costs against a defaulting party if they fail to follow the deadlines for filing Form E, usually no later than 35 days prior to the date of the first hearing. This includes a requirement for the parties to simultaneously exchange Form E with each other.
Despite being difficult and time-consuming to complete, Form E is a mandatory requirement of divorce or dissolution when the Court is asked to deal with the finances. There are notes for guidance attached to Form E, although it is often best to seek expert advice and assistance when completing this form and gathering the right documentation.
What are the consequences of lying on Form E?
The parties are legally required to provide full and frank disclosure when completing Form E, where any failure to give complete and accurate disclosure of capital wealth and income resources may result in any order the court makes being set aside, with an order for the guilty party to pay any legal costs arising from previously undisclosed assets.
This essentially means that any party who has has lied on Form E, and their dishonesty is discovered, will potentially face further court proceedings and will be responsible for the costs associated with those proceedings. The court is also likely to look less favourably on any party who has behaved dishonestly, with wide-ranging powers when it comes to dealing with anyone considered to be not playing fair, including notionally ‘adding back’ an asset to the matrimonial pot, even if this has been disposed of, or assessing an award based on the inferred wealth of one party, even if their assets can no longer be located.
The consequences of lying on Form E also go beyond draconian financial and costs orders in the context of divorce or dissolution. This is because if a party is found to have been deliberately untruthful, they may be prosecuted for contempt of court. Form E specifically requires each party to sign the form, verified by a statement of truth, and provides several reminders of the obligation to disclose all financial assets and interests of any nature, and to provide full disclosure of all financial circumstances. This includes any current living arrangement with a new partner or any plans to move in with someone new.
The consequences of lying about cohabiting on Form E, as with any other form of dishonesty in this context, can result in a court order being set side. This is because any additional household income, or sharing of domestic bills with a new partner, can often impact a court’s assessment of future need in respect of the cohabiting party.
When completing Form E, if you are in doubt about how to complete any part of this form, legal advice should be sought from a specialist in family and divorce law.
Form E FAQs
What is a Form E?
Form E must be completed by each party having applied to the court to make a financial order on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. This form asks for detailed information relating to the financial circumstances of each person.
Do I have to complete Form E?
If the court has been asked to decide the division of assets on divorce, Form E is a mandatory requirement for the parties to disclose their financial worth. Any failure to do so could result in a costs order.
When should a Form E be completed?
Form E must usually be completed 35 days prior to the first appointment of an application for the court to decide how to split the marital or partnership assets on divorce or dissolution.
What happens if you don't complete form E?
If you fail to complete Form E, or to do so in time, the court may make an order of costs against you. Form E is an important document providing financial disclosure for each party on divorce or dissolution.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.