Form E error on online divorces
Online divorces made between April 2011 to January 2012 or April 2014 to December 2015, may have incorrect Form E calculations. Family law solicitor Simon Mortimer explains further in this factsheet.
You, or your spouse may well have done some shopping or bought a holiday online during the last 4 years but have you been divorced during that period or are you still going through a divorce where one of you has used the internet to help with the divorce? If so you may need to look at what has happened or what may be happening in your divorce…
If when you are getting divorced you and your spouse cannot agree what is to happen with the house, your pensions or other finances, one of you may ask the court to sort it out and the court will expect you to file a lengthy financial statement known as “Form E”. To help with this, the government put the form online with a calculator to work out the total value of your assets. Unfortunately, between April 2011 and January 2012 and then from April 2014 until mid-December 2015, the calculator was faulty and it did not deduct certain liabilities which ended up making one party’s assets look bigger than they really were.
The government has identified over 36,000 cases where a Form E (from the affected periods) was filed, and of those over 3,600 contained a Form E which had the faulty calculator. Whether the government research has really picked up all the affected cases may be difficult to tell. If, for example, they have only looked at Form E’s filed during the affected periods then they might not have picked up Form E’s prepared during the affected periods but actually sent to the court outside those times.
There are still over 1,400 cases the government has identified which are ongoing and in which Form E’s have been filed using the faulty calculator.
If both parties had solicitors then it is unlikely such a problem has arisen as solicitors rarely use the government Form E. However, if one of the parties did not have a solicitor and still filed a Form E then they may well have used the government online form and thus a problem may have arisen.
If you used the government’s online Form E during the problem periods, or if you think your spouse did, then you should have a careful look at the documents to see whether there is a mistake in the figures and what effect that might have had on the outcome. If you think you should apply back to the court, the government has prepared a special form and will not charge you a fee to apply back to the court.
This is a real problem area and clearly affects a lot of people even if the government has got its numbers right. It could however affect more people than the government thinks bearing in mind that by definition, there are two people affected potentially in each of the 3,600 cases where the faulty form was used.
If you think you might have been affected and want to take specialist advice then please contact one of our family team on 01228 552222 and we shall be happy to look through your paperwork and give you an idea as to whether or not it will be worth your while applying back to the court for a review of your case.
About the author
Simon is a partner and leads the Family Law team at Burnetts.