I might have known that I could not write a blog aimed at helping people to get their heads around divorce finance issues without coming back, time and again, to Form E. The magnificent, overblown Form E. If Form E were a film it would be Citizen Kane. If it were a novel it would be War and Peace.
Despite the fact that Form E is designed as a financial questionnaire, even its apparently straightforward sections can provoke confusion and mistakes. A few of my clients had problems with Section 2.3 which asks for the listing of all bank and building society accounts. Here are a few pointers on this particular section
Form E Section 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.