Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Form E failures: dos and don’ts during disclosure

When a marriage that has broken down irretrievably, parties in the process of obtaining a divorce or separation are expected to make full, frank, relevant and continuing financial disclosure to each other, setting out full details of their circumstances.

Family law group Resolution encourages, and indeed expects, both parties to voluntarily begin financial disclosure at an early stage in order to help move negotiations along and increase the chances of reaching an amicable solution, thereby avoiding the acrimony and costs of having to go to Court.

Without an exchange of financial information then neither party can receive proper advice upon any settlement. Put very simply, the size of the matrimonial cake needs to be known and agreed before it can be shared out.

Indeed, if either party makes an application to the Court for a financial remedy (settlement) order, then the Court will automatically order both parties to fully disclose their finances and assets. These details will need to be filed with the Court and exchanged with each other by a given date.

It makes sense to therefore prepare and exchange this information as soon as possible.

In all but the most simple of cases, the usual manner in which mutual financial disclosure is made is by completing a document known as a Form E.  This is a comprehensive document, a little like a questionnaire, in which each party sets out full details of their finances, with those details supported by certain, clearly identified documents which verify the information in the form.  The form runs to some 28 pages or so and at first sight can be somewhat daunting to the uninitiated.

As a practitioner with over 35 years of experience in this area of law, I find even to this day that completed Forms Es can be spectacularly lacking in the required information and supporting documentation.

Even though the form can look quite intimidating at first glance, it is really not that difficult to complete it and with the benefit of proper legal advice there is no reason for it not being completed properly.

A poorly-drafted and presented Form E will take far more time to deal with and mean that the parties often has to ask for additional details in a questionnaire or ‘schedule of deficiencies’, incurring both in additional, unnecessary costs.  They can also confirm one party’s suspicions that the other party is not being forthright and may be trying to hide assets or muddy the waters.

Stowe Family Law is probably one of the only dedicated specialist family law practices to have an in-house forensic accountancy team.  This can be invaluable in the preparation of accurate Form Es, particularly where business assets are involved.  The forensic accountancy team can also help scrutinise the other party’s Form E and supporting documents and raise relevant questions if the information therein seems to be lacking or unclear.

Let’s take a look now at some of the more common problems found in completed Form Es.

  1. Property valuation

The inclusion of a current valuation of any properties owned is good practice but not obligatory unless one has been obtained within the last six months.  I would always recommend that an up-to-date valuation is provided for all properties owned, unless of course both parties fully agree on its current market value.  A further common omission is an up-to-date mortgage redemption statement, showing the amounts outstanding for any mortgages secured against the properties.  These should always be obtained and should be current.

  1. Bank details

All bank accounts, building society accounts and National Savings accounts held by either party over the previous 12 months, including joint accounts, must be fully detailed in the Form E. You will need to set out the name of the bank or building society, the type of account, the account number, the names of the account holders, the current balance and that party’s share of that balance.  It is amazing how many times I find that bank accounts have not been disclosed, only to be revealed later on after questions have been raised.  Often bank statements are not provided for the necessary period – i.e. a full 12 months – or they are illegible, or certain periods of time are missing or one statement merges into another statement making it impossible to clarify what accounts are held and what the current balances are.  It really is not rocket science to provide a full 12 months of bank statements for each and every account held.

  1. Investments

This includes such assets as PEPs, ISAs, TESSAs, National Savings, bonds, stocks, unit trusts, investment trusts, gilts and other quoted securities. These must be disclosed, giving the full name of the investment, the type of investment, the size of the holding, its current value, the names of all parties with an interest, and the current value of that party’s interest.  The key documentation required in support will be the last statement or dividend counterfoil for each and every investment.

  1. Insurance

All life assurance (endowment) policies must also be disclosed even if they have no surrender value and pay out on death only.  If they do have a surrender value, that should be included of course.

  1. Assets

Details of all monies owed to a party must be included, as well as all cash sums held in excess of £500. Similarly, all personal belongings individually worth more than £500. Often valuable items of jewellery or family heirlooms are often excluded when they should of course be disclosed.

  1. Debts

On the flip side of this coin, all liabilities should be disclosed as well, with details of who the debt is owed to and the current amount of the liability.  Interestingly, the Form E does not require supporting documents to be provided for this, but I always recommend that they should be included anyway to save time, as the other side is likely to request up-to-date statements for verification.

  1. Capital gains

If capital gains tax might be payable, then it is good practice and indeed expected that a calculation should be included in the Form E, as clearly this has an effect on the net value of the assets.  As Stowe Family Law has its own forensic accountancy team these calculations can be undertaken in-house.

  1. Business assets

There are detailed sections of the Form E for any business assets or directorships. These need to be completed with supporting documentation, including business accounts for the last two financial years and any documentation that values a party’s interest: either a formal valuation or otherwise, with all directorships held or having been held in the last 12 months detailed.

  1. Pensions

As the parties’ pensions are often very valuable items in the pool of matrimonial assets, these can be taken into account by the Court, so full details of all pensions need to be provided in the Form E, together with an up to date cash equivalent (CE).  The CE is an important document which the Court requires for the initial valuation of all pensions held.  As they can take quite a long time to obtain from the pension provider, it is good practice to ask for these at a very early stage, to avoid delay later on in the proceedings. The pension providers are obliged by law to provide this information and documentation to the member of the pension scheme, free of charge, annually. In certain cases, the cash equivalent may not be an adequate valuation and in those cases it may be necessary to obtain an actuarial report on the pensions held, but this would have to be ordered by the Court at the first appointment hearing.

  1. Income

Parties to a divorce must also fully declare their income from all sources, whether that be from employment, self-employment, a partnership or investments – i.e. dividends, interest, rental income, state benefits, pensions or any other source.  Supporting documentation must be provided for each type of income. So for example, for PAYE employment the P60 for the last financial year will be needed, along with the last three wage slips they received and the last form P11D if this is relevant.

  1. Income needs

Each party will also be required in their Form E to set out a schedule of their monthly or annual income needs, both for themselves and for any children, as well as their ‘capital needs’ – i.e. the funds they may require to purchase a property or replace a motor vehicle or undertake essential repairs on their home.  It is good practice to obtain details of several suitable properties similar to the former matrimonial home to assist the Court in establishing the costs related to that party’s housing needs.  This is often not dealt with at an early stage but it is preferable to do at the outset to clearly establish housing needs.

  1. Changes in circumstances

There are other sections towards the end of the Form E that require details of any significant changes in  assets or income over the preceding 12 months or in the following 12 months. Further sections allow comments upon relevant factors such as contributions or inheritance prospects or conduct.  It should be remembered that in the case of the latter, only the most serious misconduct should be detailed and only if it is relevant to the financial issues at hand.

At the end of the Form E each party must sign a ‘statement of truth’ which confirms that the information they have given is a full, frank, clear and accurate disclosure of his or her financial and other relevant circumstances. It includes a warning that anyone making false statement on the Form E may face Contempt of Court charges.

Even after the Form E has been filed and exchanged, the parties must make full, frank, relevant and continuing disclosure of their finances until an agreement has been reached or the Court has made a final order.  In effect, this means each party will be legally obligated to disclose to the other party any changes in their financial circumstances, or indeed any relevant changes in their personal circumstances.

Although to the uninitiated Form Es may appear cumbersome, one of the beauties of their use is that both parties exchange like-for-like documents.  Furthermore, the Form E acts as an excellent check-list of what information and what supporting documentation needs to be disclosed during the divorce.

If the factors I’ve listed above are all taken into account when completing a Form E, then you are far more likely to avoid unnecessary delays, costs and questions later on.

It is always advisable to seek independent legal advice, preferably from a family law specialist, if you are required to complete a Form E.

Mark Christie is the head of Stowe Family Law’s dedicated Childrens Department. Mark has specialised in family law for more than 35 years and provides clients with a wealth of practical experience.

Get in touch


  1. Jo Archer says:

    Interesting summary of what is required and good practice in the completion of a Form E, but what ‘forensic accounting’ qualifications are applicable to personal finances such as this? And how do you go about finding what is not declared? The threat of contempt of court is an empty one if the court relies (as the Child Maintenance Service seems to do) on what they are told by one party.

    Please don’t assume that the Form E pertains only to matrimonial cases – it is also a key part of Schedule 1 applications, where the Applicant has absolutely no visibility of the Defendent’s finances, present or former.

    • Cameron Paterson says:

      Mark replies:

      “Our forensic accountants can often help to flush out financial details that have not initialy been disclosed in a form E .This enables suitable questions to be raised to the non disclosing party .If the disclosure is still not made then the court can in appropriate circumstances draw the logical + necessary inference.
      Of course use of the form E plays an important role in schedule 1 proceedings.”

  2. JULIAN BERG says:


    • David says:

      From personal experience, assets obtained before marriage are up for grabs as well. I owned my house outright before I got married. When we married and bought a house together, we had a deed of trust drawn up by solicitors showing the amount I put in and what we would get out in the even the house was sold.
      It was ignored by the judge at one preliminary hearing. After haggling, I eventually got a little more but I’m still about 100K down. I did argue that the vast majority of my pension was contributed to before I got married so I kept that.

  3. Sue Heal says:

    I was wondering if you instructed counsel for the family hearings or if you dealt with the case with a solicitor please. Also would like to speak to someone from your office regarding a financial dispute resolution hearing for my partner please.

    • Matthew Jackson says:

      Hi Sue, I have passed your message on to our client care team, but please contact our main office number if you would like to speak to one of our lawyers.

  4. Bob twigg says:

    Hi, my partner did not disclose land we have abroad in her name on her form e. How do i proceed with a prosecution for fraud or appeal to the courts for non disclosure of assets?
    Thanks, Bob

  5. Ted Hughes says:

    What about a Dowry in a Indian arrange marriage?

    I was married over 24 years ago and the purpose of the dowry is a tradition where the parents of one side (or both sides) provide gifts (gold jewellry in my case).

    I understand the word dowry has a different meaning and concept today but dowry at the point of my marriage had a clear meaning: If a married couple got into financially difficulty the dowry could be sold on?
    So is this not a matrimonial asset?

  6. Yvonne flanagan says:

    Do the parties in the divorce get to see each other’s form e, or is it just the solicitors? I’m worried that my spouse will over inflate expenses.

    • Kate Nestor says:

      I have passed your details to our Client Care Team who will be able to put you in touch with a lawyer who can help. Regards,

  7. Peter Vermeulen says:

    What happens if one of the parties does not serve the other party with their form E, as instructed by the court, by the given deadline? What actions should be taken?

    • Kate Nestor says:

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I have passed your details to our Client Care Team who will be able to put you in touch with a lawyer who can help. Regards,

  8. Alison says:

    What happens if your soon to be ex husband paid cash for everything through out your 30 year marriage. Our lifestyle was lavish but his Form E shows a paltry income. How do you prove cash payments. Kind regards

  9. layla says:

    I have submitted my form E to the court 1 month ago. I work fulltime but I found a temp position to work over the weekend for three months. Do I need to tell the court about this? I want to use the money to pay the court fee.

  10. Graham says:

    Can a financial agreement be settled without completing a form E? Most (if not all) documents have been submitted to mediation in January. Our decree absolute came through in April. My Ex is now requesting that I complete Form E. If I do now complete Form E should the 12 month of statements be up to the date of Decree Absolute or to the current date? I have been saving hard since divorce as I am expecting to become homeless at the end of this, but now worried I will have to share half my new savings.

  11. Graham Kennedy says:

    What happens if one party fails to provide a FORM E in reasonable time, so for instance if the document is still not available to exchange four months after the date expected. Is any redress possible in these circumstances? Can evidence be discounted?

  12. mr longstone says:

    hi there ,can i ask a question ,been divorced for nearly 9 years matrimonial house been sold split down the middle thought that was it didnt know of any e form,out of the blue got a letter from her solicitor saying have to fill in an e form ,the money i have has been accumulated since iwas divorced is the ex entitled to this ,look foeward to your answer ,thanks .

    • Sally Shakespeare says:

      Hi Mr Longstone. Thank you for query. I have passed this on to our Client Care Team who will be in touch. Best wishes

  13. LFernandes says:

    Hi there,

    What do you write if certain sections do not apply to you. For instance business assets, would I just write N/A?

    Also when my mum was isolating in lockdown I held money for her in my account that I withdrew and gave to her for building works to be paid. Would this money be considered as income in Form E? because its not mine, it was just my bank account that was used in the process.

    Thank you.

    • Sally Shakespeare says:

      Thank you for your question. I have passed this on to our client care team who may be able to answer your question. Kind regards

  14. FRoe says:

    Has anyone had action taken against them for contempt of court for deliberately not disclosing income and pensions on their form E, with the other party incurring more legal costs to get the disclosure?

  15. Rachel says:

    How much is it to go through my ex’s form E

  16. Phil says:

    Do credit card statements need to be supplied or can they be asked for during the process? (I cannot see anything on Form E about this.)

    • Sally Shakespeare says:

      Thanks for your question. I’ve passed this on to our Client Care Team for help. Best wishes

  17. asking for a firend says:

    do you have to disclose all details on a bank statement that could make your violent EX aware of your shopping habits & location. I have a friend fearing for her safety but needing to get divorced so she can move away.

    • Sally Shakespeare says:

      Thanks for your question. I have passed this on to our Client Care Team for helpl. Best wishes

Leave a Reply


Newsletter Sign Up

For all the latest news from Stowe Family law
please sign up for instant access today.

    Privacy Policy