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Is Form E Compulsory in divorce? Not sure about solicitor....

(34 Posts)
smoothieooo Tue 30-Jun-15 14:18:15

Quick background: STHex and I separated 3 years ago and I initiated divorce proceedings at the end of April. We have 2 teenage DS and he has paid the full mortgage in lieu of child support since he left.

It took over a month from the initial meeting, but my sol sent me the paperwork including the dreaded Form E.

STBex and I have had a discussion whereby we have loosely agreed that we will sell the house when DS2 is 18 (he's 15 currently) and split the equity 60:40 in my favour (partly because I'll need to buy somewhere for the DC and I and also because I'm 8 years older) and in the meantime, we will split the mortgage and he will pay child support.

I asked my sol via email whether instead of Form E we could have a Consent Order drawn up with what we had agreed. 2.5 weeks later, she has come back to me to request that I DO complete the form and we could discuss it at a meeting. But STBex's sol has told him that we could proceed with the divorce and complete a 3-page Form D81 with the financials. I'm feeling bit emotional and fragile (and therefore probably a bit paranoid at the mo) but am not sure whether STBex has a bit of an agenda where finances are concerned or whether my sol is just trying to get her money's worth.

I'd be so grateful for a bit of advice... it's such a hideous business!

Pinkandpurplehairedlady Tue 30-Jun-15 14:22:09

I did our divorce without a Form E. We both knew about each other assests and agreed the split between ourselves so didn't think it was necessary. My solicitor had me sign a waiver confirming that they'd advised against this and that they couldn't give me advice on the financial aspect because of this. They still drew up the consent order for us.

lighteningirl Tue 30-Jun-15 14:30:35

Please do it and ask for it from your ex if neither of you has anything to hide it's just one more sol Bill if he is hiding something you need to know

smoothieooo Tue 30-Jun-15 14:57:38

Thanks both. It's as though my sol ignored my request to have the consent order instead of Form E and although I trust ex to a certain extent, he's a slippery bastard where money is concerned!

HenriettaBarnet Tue 30-Jun-15 15:04:09

My solicitor is also refusing to proceed without the form E - my H is similar to yours, he's refusing to complete a form E and is also to some extent hiding his income from me. But we've reached a settlement which I'm happy with and exH is happy to proceed using the form D81. The solicitor has said I have to represent myself if I go ahead without a form E. It's a difficult position because exH won't complete one and it will cost me thousands to go ahead without one, unless I settle with him without legal advice.

So sorry, no help, but I'm in the same position.

smoothieooo Tue 30-Jun-15 15:24:54

Sorry to hear you're in the same boat Henrietta - I worry that the whole Form E business will turn a relatively amicable divorce into a war zone. Plus every time I look at that sodding form, it swims before my eyes - all 27 pages of the bloody thing!

HenriettaBarnet Tue 30-Jun-15 19:49:07

I completed my form E! H has no assets really to put in the form, but he doesn't want to disclose his income (to me or the solicitor).

I'm waiting for my solicitor to come back with a suggestion as to how to proceed. But actually I'm thinking that I could suggest the waiver route that pinkandpurplehairedlady up thread did. I worry that H is stitching me up, but I just can't afford to go the whole court route (and in any case I think he would estimate his future earnings conservatively as he is self-employed, so Im not sure I'd be any better off.

what has your solicitor said smoothiooo?

smoothieooo Tue 30-Jun-15 21:02:39

My solicitor hasn't really given me a reason as to why I can't proceed with a D81/Consent Order rather than a Form E. She just told me to complete it and to arrange a meeting with her early next week. She also warned me against coming to an agreement with ex-H without her input.

It worries me a little that since April 30 (my initial meeting) I've had only 2 communications from her; the first to send the initial raft of paperwork and the second, yesterday, to ask me to complete the form and to send her further payment on account!

I'm torn between not wanting to shell out an enormous amount of money which I don't have on doing the whole financial disclosure thing or potentially not getting the best outcome for DC and I. So I've done the sensible thing... and bought an extra Lottery ticket! grin

Well done on completing the form!

lighteningirl Tue 30-Jun-15 21:21:35

My now husband had a very bitter divorce from his first wife it was all v amicable til Form E came up. His solicitor absolutely insisted on it and it turned out she had a half million in a trust fund she had been drawing twenty grand a year from and hiding in various savings accounts he genuinely had no idea despite 20 years of marriage

Mumfun Tue 30-Jun-15 21:48:02

Yes I know of a couple of current divorces where the husbands have completely ripped off the ex wives by either persuading them to be amicable or being so awful that the wife just wanted it over. Self employed are a nightmare as they can cook the books but still. There is a good reason to avoid Form E - if you think you can save yourself a large amount of money by avoiding it.

Spero Tue 30-Jun-15 21:54:29

I would imagine she is trying to protect you and protect herself. The only reason someone would want to avoid a Form E is because they are trying to hide assets. If you reach an agreement and later find out that they had other assets they hadn't declared, you might turn round and blame your solicitor.

But if you are prepared to sign a waiver and say you are doing it against their advice, can't see the problem.

Personally, I wouldn't settle without being pretty confident i had full and frank disclosure. But equally I can see why you might just want to get it over with.

Mumblechum1 Tue 30-Jun-15 21:57:11

Exactly what Spero said.

[ex divorce lawyer]. The solicitor needs to cover her back, and you should only skip Form E if you've always had full access to all of your husband's bank accounts etc so know at least roughly what his situ is.

babybarrister Tue 30-Jun-15 22:06:34

I don't really understand why you don't just fill it in - yes it is 28 pages but most of it is very very quick to fill in. Your solicitor is not asking you to pay her to fill it in is she ? ....

foxinsocks Tue 30-Jun-15 22:08:53

There is a short form E? That's what I filled in

HenriettaBarnet Tue 30-Jun-15 22:17:35

If you subsequently reach a settlement using a form D81, does the Form E get filed at court or is it just used to inform the solicitor advising you what your stbxh's financial position is?

I think that my H is more likely to file the Form E if he thinks it is just the solicitor who sees it.

(mine is avoiding filling it in because he doesn't want to declare all of his past income for tax reasons, or so he says. His future income is just an estimate at this stage so he can put anything in really).

oldfatandtired1 Tue 30-Jun-15 22:27:45

The form e looks horrendous. For most people, it really isn't. It's house, savings, pensions, salaries basically. Fill it in. You can't really proceed without it.

smoothieooo Tue 30-Jun-15 23:51:44

Thanks all - much appreciated advice. I need to bite the bullet, fill it in and close my ears to the rants of ex-H. After all, we wouldn't be in this position had he not traded me in for a younger model! <NotAtAllBitter>

I just hope that what I end up being entitled to is roughly what is on the table at the moment.

Fidelia Wed 01-Jul-15 11:57:43

Form E is a really good idea.

- It allows you both to see what you both have to live off,and that can help with understanding each other's position

- It can reveal hidden income/expenditure/debts

- It requires an accurate house valuation,so neither party can say they were hard done by

- It requires pension valuations, incl additional state pensions.These are often the highest capital after the house (sometimes worth more) and are supposed to be included in the marital pot. Pensions can be offset against house capital (at a discounted rate to allow for the fact that you can't cash in a pension for many years). Many higher earners 'forget' about their pension capital when divorcing a partner with a smaller pension...

- It can help to reveal if they are already co-habiting, which would mean that their income needs are less because they are sharing costs with someone else, and it can show they are adequately housed already.

The great thing about Form E is that STBXH has had to admit to:

- a payrise because he had to declare his payslips and P60.
- a large pension pot
- receiving a large rental deposit back
- a huge amount of hidden credit card debt (he'd wanted to not declare how much but just take it off the house capital, skewing the figures) because I could see on his bank statements thathe was making payments each month

And if your STBXH has been cheating, you can take off his share money that he has spent on the other woman

babybarrister Thu 02-Jul-15 09:49:12

Fidelia has just given you a very useful example given in an actual case - please take note!!! Form Es were created for a reason - to find out what the assets and income are - they really should not be controversial. Anyone who says they do not want to fill one in should be setting off alarm bells ...

Spero Thu 02-Jul-15 10:06:34

I completely agree with all that is said about importance of Form Es.

BUT if 'what is on the table' represents a sum of money that could provide you with a stable and secure future, it is not crazy to consider whether you do simply agree to that now.

If your ex is a complete twat, they will drag this on for as long as possible. You do need to weigh up the emotional costs of continuing in court proceedings for possibly many many months.

its about weighing up the different harms - take a deal which is on the table now, but which might represent only a small fraction of what you would get after a contested hearing.

OR insist on full and frank financial disclosure and chase down everything. This is likely to result in a bigger settlement, but it will take time and it will be emotionally draining.

I don't think these are worthless considerations but any solicitor will want to protect him/herself from you getting angry after the event if you discover the full extent of the failure to disclose assets.

Personally, anyone who objected to filling in a Form E would find me chasing them for the next ten years, as I would assume they were trying to hide something very important. But not everyone has the stamina for that.

Its about being honest with yourself - what's more important to you and the rest of your life? If the deal on the table is crap or not very good, don't be bullied into taking it. But if you think the deal is not bad, give it some thought.

smoothieooo Thu 02-Jul-15 10:20:56

Thanks all. I did the sensible thing and put my thoughts to my sol. We're going to have a conversation later about a half way solution - i.e. something not as incredibly detailed as the Form E but not as basic as the D81. I feel that what my ex-H and I have discussed is pretty fair and I would be very surprised to find he had hidden assets (he's 41 and has only just starting paying into a pension)!

HenriettaBarnet Thu 02-Jul-15 11:06:27

smoothieooo I'd be interested in hearing what your solution is. My stbxh had an absoulte hissy fit yesterday when I insisted on the Form E and then he withdrew his offer!! it was ridiculous - he sent me really unpleasant emails and completely overreacted I think.

Do you have to file Form E at court or can it just be used to inform the solicitor so that they feel they can advise you?

I was actually quite happy with what he'd suggested, but now I'm starting to think he's hiding something (not extra money, but maybe that he's moved in with someone else). I have had access to some of my stbx's information so I know what he's earning, but I suppose there could be a hidden cash sum somewhere.

HenriettaBarnet Thu 02-Jul-15 11:07:20

Spero, you also have to have the cash to chase up the Form E. I don't have the cash for a long drawn out court battle and H knows that.

smoothieooo Thu 02-Jul-15 11:26:11

Henrietta I'll let you know what sol says when I speak to her later.

I think that my ex-H just can't be arsed to fill the form in rather than is worried about what will be disclosed. He's paid the equivalent of half the mortgage plus child support for the last 3 years without fail so I do trust him to a certain extent.

My sol costs are such that I'm having to scrape together �400 a month on account which is a difficult to say the least and another reason for having a less drawn out process!

smoothieooo Thu 02-Jul-15 16:07:46

I spoke to my Sol who is going to request a great deal of the info from Form E, without ex-H having to complete the form. So... she's going to request:

P60
Last 3 wage slips
Schedule of all bank accounts
Details of any savings accounts / pensions
Bank statements for the last 6-12 months

I'm much happier about this - it gives the necessary info but looks to ex-H like I'm meeting him half way. Phew!

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