In one of my blog posts I proposed a re-formulation of Einstein’s classic theory E=MC2. As follows:
E = Form E
C = Confusion
2= both spouses
I attempted to deal with the horror of the Form E financial disclosure questionnaire by dashing headlong into something much more simple like quantum physics. But no more running. If you try to swallow the Form E whole, it will end up swallowing you. Let’s try bite-sized chunks instead. I’ve made a start below but will be adding to the list as I go along. But before I do, just a reminder of the Forms themselves:
Form E – this is the document that should be used by husbands and wives or civil partners in divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings to disclose their finances when applying for a Financial Order or if applying for financial relief following a divorce or dissolution overseas.
Form E1 – this is the document that should be used for any other financial remedy in the County Court (in other words, do not use this form if you are divorcing your spouse or civil partner). Form E1 is suitable for claims made on behalf of children under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 (for instance, if the children’s parents are not married or in a civil partnership).
Form E2 – this is the document to use when applying for a financial order in the Family Proceedings Court (the Magistrates’ Court).
I have referred below to the sections of the Form E financial disclosure questionnaire in divorce as this is far and away the most common one. I want to point out where people make common mistakes or just miss a trick or two.
2.1 Complete this section in respect of the family home (the last family home occupied by you and your spouse/civil partner) if it remains unsold.
TIP The title number can be obtained online, together with a downloaded copy of the property title for around £20 from Land Registry for land registered in the United Kingdom here. The copy of the register will also confirm how the land is held and will be of great assistance to your appointed solicitor.
TIP The form asks for type of mortgage. Capital repayment means you are paying off the capital borrowed from your mortgage lender as well as the interest charged on that amount so you will owe nothing at the end of the mortgage term. Interest only means you are only servicing the interest payments and you will still owe the capital borrowed from the mortgage lender at the outset of the mortgage term by the end of the mortgage term. If you have another type of mortgage please provide a short description and if in doubt consult your mortgage lender or independent financial adviser.
TIP The form asks for “Details of who owns the property and the extent of your legal and beneficial interest in it (i.e. state if it is owned by you solely or jointly owned with your spouse/civil partner or with others).” The copy of the property register from Land Registry will confirm how this property is held. If you have stated that you own the property jointly with your spouse or civil partner then it is assumed you have a 50% interest in the property but you can change this percentage if you believe your interest is greater or lesser, as would be the case, for example, if you had executed a Declaration of Trust when purchasing the property which specifies that you and your spouse or civil partner own the property in unequal shares. If in doubt, check with the lawyers who helped you with the Declaration of Trust. Even if your name is not on the title deeds then you may still be able to recover some value from your involvement with the property arising out the marriage or civil partnership.
2.3 Details of all personal bank, building society and National Savings Accounts that you hold or have held at any time in the last twelve months and which are or were either in your own name or in which you have or have had any interest. This applies whether any such account is in credit or in debit. For joint accounts give your interest and the name of the other account holder. If the account is overdrawn, show a minus figure.
If you have money in another person’s bank account, you must still disclose your interest (the amount you have in the account) at this section of the Form E.
TIP If you have online access to your bank accounts you can usually print off the last 12 months’ bank statements directly to your printer. If you are having difficulty obtaining missing bank statements, your bank is obliged to provide up to the last 6 years’ worth of bank statements provided you state clearly it is a request under the Data Protection Act 1998 for which the maximum charge is £10.00.
There are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Forgetting to include details (and statements) for accounts closed in the past 12 months. If your spouse is aware that you had such an account but you do not disclose it, it can arouse suspicion and mistrust. Remember to include the closing statement so it is clear the account has been closed.
- If you do not want your spouse to know where you are living (arising from a genuine concern for your safety or that of your children) and have withheld your address in the divorce or civil partnership proceedings, you should ‘redact’ (blank out with a thick felt pen) any identifying geographical information such as your address and also any local ATM cashpoints that you use. DO NOT BLANK OUT AMOUNTS OF MONEY AS THAT WOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED.
- Ensure you have complete sets of statements for each account. Through no fault of your own, you may be missing a few pages and if there are significant changes in the balances of the accounts then your spouse may think you are hiding something.
- If the bank account you disclose is a joint one then make sure you only put down 50% of the final balance as your interest.
- Finally, do not forget to deduct the value of any overdrawn accounts rather than adding them in. This happens more often than you may think, especially if there are 8 or 9 bank accounts all jostling for space in this section of the Form E.