At some point, if you become involved in a discussion, or a detailed negotiation about financial issues arising from your divorce, you will probably have to fill in a form E. By that stage you would be wise to have consulted a solicitor who specialises in financial issues arising from the divorce, and s/he will help you to fill it in. But this post aims to explain and demystify form E a little, and it includes some detailed practical points if you decide to fill it in on your own. If you are consulting a solicitor, you may be able to save some of his/her time, and therefore some cost, by doing some of the spadework yourself.
What is form E.
Form E is the template specified by the court rules (FPR 2010) to set out your financial “and other relevant” circumstances. It is used primarily in the context of an application for a financial remedy order arising from a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, but it is also used in certain similar court proceedings which are less common.
Form E has been in use for more than 20 years. There have been a number of changes over the years, but mostly they have been relatively minor and the basic form has stood the test of time. It has become the accepted format for giving disclosure of your financial circumstances both in court proceedings and in similar situations, such as where you have agreed to try to negotiate an arrangement through solicitors. Some family mediation services also use form E. There are variants (form E1 and form E2) designed for certain particular financial applications, but they are relatively rarely used.
The early parts of form E are generally the most important, because that is where you set out basic details such as names and addresses, and also provide the financial information which is essential to begin to resolve financial issues. The later parts of the form, roughly from section 4 onwards (around page 22 on most versions) are less important. The headings to those sections and subsections mostly follow the factors listed at section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act which a judge is invited to take into account in deciding a fair and appropriate outcome. Those points can generally be raised later, and it is often better not to raise issues other than financial information, or to commit yourself to a particular position at this stage.
Filling in the form.
You can find a copy of form E on the government website here:
If you are filling it in yourself there is no alternative to working through the form, and filling in each section manually. Some versions have software which added up the totals, to make the task a little easier, but for most people it is a bit of a chore.
If you are filling it in with your solicitor, t is still helpful, I think, to look at the end understand product will be like, but I and some other solicitors have access to a software package which makes it a good deal easier. Basically it gives you a user-friendly interface to input the information needed, and then takes information to generate a completed form E. You can also upload the supporting documentation as you go along. Another advantage of the software version is that if you need to change or update your form E later you can just go into the software, and change the relevant parts , we can then generate a new version of form E for you in a couple of clicks, and the information can also be re-used to produce certain other documents you need to prepare later in the process very easily.
Form E section by section.
At first sight form E itself can seem a little daunting, but if you study it more closely you will probably find that it is relatively simple to fill in. Remember the same form is used by the ordinary man in the street whose financial circumstances are relatively simple, but also by multimillionaires, who may have very complicated financial arrangements. So for most people most of the boxes can be marked “not applicable” and the task becomes much simpler. I think most people can fill in a form E, or break the back of the task, in a couple evenings. Your former husband/wife/partner will also be filling in a form E, for simplicity I will refer to them in this letter as “the other party”. It may be that you and s/he can help each other with some shared information.
If you are filling in the form long hand, rather than using the software, best approach is simply to go through each section, reading the notes which appear above the boxes very carefully. They generally explain well what is required in each box, and also what supporting documentation is needed. If you are using the software, you can just go through the various boxes answering the questions
There is no right or wrong way to fill in the form, as long as you fill it in honestly. Mostly it is pretty simple to fill in, and I will not comment here about every single section, but these points of guidance may help: –
1. You will notice that the heading to each section or subsection explains the documents you are expected to supply to support the information in that section. The guidance is generally quite clear, there is also a useful checklist at the back of the form E, starting at page 27 on most versions.
2. The form is intended to be a snapshot of your finances at some moment in time. The problem is that sometimes it is difficult to pull together all the data for the same date. It is better to do that as much as you can, but a spread of a couple of weeks even up to a month or so is quite common, and is unlikely to be questioned.
3. Section 2.1 concerns your home, and section 2.2 concerns other properties you may own, such as rental properties or a holiday home. If you have more than two properties you have to duplicate the page. It is not necessary to commission a paid- for valuation of the property just to fill in the form E, nor is it necessary to attach estate agents appraisals. Most people can give a realistic estimate of what they would expect to get if they sold their property, based on their knowledge of the local market etc. and that is usually sufficient, for the purpose of the form. If there is significant disagreement about property values we may have to arrange to have them valued later.
4. The generally accepted convention is that, where you are listing an asset (for example a property or a bank account) which you own or jointly with the other party you include only half the value in your form, in the expectation that they will include the other half in their form, and both forms taken together will give the full picture. For example section 2.1 concerns your home. If it is owned in joint names you fill in the boxes giving the full value of the property, and the full amount owing on the mortgage etc so that towards the bottom of the page you get to the “total equity in the property”. But then you would divide that figure by 2 to give “total value of your interest in this property”. So for example if the total equity is £250,000 the value of your interest would be £125,000, even though you may want to argue that actually a bigger share of the property belongs to you than to the other party.
5. Similarly, paragraph 2.3 invites you to list all your bank (etc) accounts so with a joint account the first five columns would give the full amount in that bank account, but then the sixth column, on the right, would have half the total balance.
6. Properties, savings, and money in bank accounts which are in the other party’s sole name should generally not be included in your form E, even though you may feel that you are entitled to part of them. Of course, you should bear them in mind and make sure your other party puts them into their form E.
7. The balance in your bank account may fluctuate significantly, so it is sometimes difficult to decide what figure to take. Generally speaking with “savings” accounts I would say take the most recently available balance. With your current account it is probably best to take the figure just before you last get paid, as that will show if there is any residual money in the bank account.
8. You have to attach 12 months statements for each account. Statements downloaded from your online banking facility would be perfectly sufficient.
9. Paragraph 2.8 ask you to list your “personal belongings” (lawyers would say “chattels”) with a value of more than £500, which causes confusion The expectation is that you would only include items which would sell for more than that figure, rather than taking the price you may have paid for them. Generally speaking it is only important to include things you might realistically sell, rather than bits of household furniture which are in use, or personal jewellery. So usually it is not necessary to spend a great deal of time on this section.
10. Section 2.8 includes cars, which can be a tricky subject. The starting point would be to try one of the online valuers such as “we buy any car.com” to try to find out what the car might actually sell for. But, where the car is subject to a lease arrangement, or outstanding HP, it may be simplest to leave the value blank, otherwise it will skew the data in the rest of the form. Usually the value of ordinary cars which are in daily service gets disregarded when it comes to any negotiation or decision of a judge. Exceptionally valuable cars or collectors’ cars might be treated differently.
11. Paragraph 2.10 is about Capital Gains Tax - it asks you to estimate the CGT which would be payable if any of the assets you have listed were sold. It is important to bear in mind the CGT consequences of any settlement you might agree, but CGT is a technical subject and it is difficult for most non professionals to estimate CGT accurately. Generally speaking your home will be exempt from CGT, but not necessarily if you have rented it out, or not lived in it, for part of the time you have owned it. If you have an accountant it would be sensible to discuss this section with them. If you don’t have an accountant it may be better to list the item which you think might attract CGT and then put “unknown” rather than hazarding a guess which might be misleading.
12. Paragraph 2.13, concerns pensions, which are a relatively unfamiliar subject to most people. You don’t have to include details of your entitlement to Basic State Pension, but it would probably be sensible to get a state pension forecast anyway, for your own information. You can request one on the government website. The simplest approach to other pensions, is to write to the pension scheme administrators, either send them the blank page in your form E, or just tell them that you are required to fill in a form E (most schemes are familiar with it) and that you need the information. You should tell the scheme that you need the information for the purpose of divorce proceedings, because there are regulations which then require them to produce the information more quickly and generally free of charge. You should tell them the date by which the information is needed. But quite often the pension information is not available when you have filled in the rest of your form. You don’t have to delay the rest of the form until you have the pension information it can be “to follow”.
13. Paragraph 2.20 is a summary of the information provided in the earlier parts of the form with totals. Some versions of form E you will use would automatically add up and fill in the totals for you, otherwise you have to do it yourself.
14. Paragraph 3.1 is where you set out your “reasonable income needs”. It is divided into two sections, one for you, and one for any children living with you. It is usually very important to have a clear and realistic understanding of how much money you are likely to need to live on in the future, so rather than filling in the form itself (which generally doesn’t have much space) you can make a separate list and add it to the form as an attachment.
15. Paragraph 3.2 is for your “reasonable capital needs” which for most people means the cost of buying somewhere suitable to live. You don’t necessarily have to put commit to a particular figure or put figures in this section at this stage. It is generally acceptable to put “suitable housing, £to be confirmed”. But it is important to think about this issue carefully, look for agents particulars for suitable properties in the right kind of area, think about how much it would cost to buy the property, including professional fees (solicitors, valuers etc) and stamp duty, reasonable removal costs, and a certain amount of moving in expenditure such as curtains, carpets and other adaptations.
16. Paragraph 4.1.1 is for significant changes in assets or income in the last 12 months. For example you may have lost your job, or you may have sold an asset and used the money for something else. You may also have closed down bank accounts etc. It is sensible to list these things in this section, because it avoids questions being asked about them later. Paragraph 4.1.2 is for similar changes which might occur in the next 12 months. The future is uncertain, and you can’t be expected to crystal ball gaze with any accuracy. But, for example, if you know that you are likely to lose your job, or that you are likely to inherit money from someone who has died, you should put that information in this paragraph.
Once you have got to paragraph 4.1.2 you have pretty much completed your task. There may be points that you would like to include in the later sections, but on the whole you should keep your comments to a minimum. The exception is paragraph 4.6, which concerns information about your new partners financial circumstances which is often a sensitive subject. Your new partner is not a party to these court proceedings (or negotiations) and so they cannot be expected to provide detailed financial information. At this stage you are expected, simply, to explain your new partners financial situation as far as it is known to you.
Signing your form E.
When the form and its enclosures are ready you are expected to sign the form at the end, to confirm that it is true and that it accurately and fully sets out your financial circumstances, and any other relevant financial circumstances. In practice digital signatures are acceptable, but you should bear in mind that the form will be treated as if you have signed it, even if you haven’t, so it is important that the final version is as accurate as you can make it.
Getting your form E and supporting documents ready to share.
Form E and supporting documentation is usually stored, exchanged, and sent to court in digital format. A paper version would be quite bulky. So it is helpful to scan the form E and convert it to a PDF file once you have filled it in and signed it. Similarly you should scan the documents you are attaching and convert to a PDF file. It is best to have two separate files – one is the form E itself and one is the attached them documents. Make sure the documents are in a logical order, and if there are a lot of them it may be sensible to break them down into a few separate PDFs, for example one for your bank statements, one for your salary statements etc. The PDF files can then be sent with an email, or uploaded onto the court IT platform if you are in proceedings already.
Health Warning :This post is intended as a general guide only – It is important to obtain expert advice about your own situation, I can certainly accept no responsibility for any loss you might suffer as a result of relying purely on the information on this website.
John Pratley is an expert divorce lawyer, who has more than 25 years’ experience advising clients purely about divorce and related family law issues, such as the financial consequences of separating and divorcing. After establishing the first niche family law practice in Bristol, and going on to senior management roles in a national firm, John set up Apple Tree Family Law in 2018. Apple Tree Family Law solicitors specialise in advice about divorce and financial issues.
We are based in Bristol and Exeter, but we have clients all over the UK and further afield. We offer, simply, clear and accurate advice about divorce and family law issues, and the very best client service, for a clear and reasonable price.