Help with completing Financial
Disclosure (Form E) / Finances

When a marriage breaks down there are three central topics to consider:-

  • The divorce process itself
  • The finances of the marriage, generally using Form E.
  • The children of the family

Usually, it is the financial aspects of the case that cause the most concern for people who are anxious to ensure they achieve what is often termed as their ‘entitlement’, when a marriage breaks down.  In order to resolve the finances effectively, it is necessary for the divorcing couple to provide full and frank disclosure to each other (generally by means of a Form E) of their respective finances.  Such financial disclosure will need to cover income from all sources, capital – including interests in property, savings and investments, pensions and company accounts.  Debts and liabilities will also have to be disclosed.  In some cases it is necessary to obtain expert evidence in relation to certain aspects of pensions and business accounts in order to obtain a complete view of the likely effect the true value of these assets will have upon the outcome of a financial settlement, to reflect the marriage.

Once a full picture of the finances is achieved from Forms E completed by both parties, negotiations can begin to determine a workable and appropriate division of all the finances between the spouses.

Although there is much decided case law on the subject, as well as detailed guidance from S.25 of the Matrimonial causes Act 1973 concerning the factors to be considered on a marriage breakdown, in determining the financial outcome, it is important to understand that no two cases of marriage breakdown are ever the same, so that what might be appropriate in one broken marriage may not be in another.  Here at Breakthrough we can guide you through the law relating to the way finances should be considered utilising the Form E, and help you to achieve a financial settlement that has the interests of your particular circumstances at its heart, regardless of the reason surrounding the marriage breakdown.

There are many matters to consider when seeking to resolve the finances on a marriage breakdown, and English family law has developed over the years using what might be described as a philosophical approach. This has led to the current position we are facing where there is a focus on “needs”, rather than a “reasonable requirements test” which held sway for many years before the Supreme Courts current approach to spousal maintenance in particular.

In terms of dividing the capital appropriately when a marriage breaks down, categories of assets are now considered carefully so that it has become very important to determine what might be regarded as ‘marital’ and ‘non-marital’ assets.  This is where a properly completed Form E becomes extremely useful.  Marital assets are now shared equally, unless required to meet ‘need’.  Conversely, non-marital assets are not shared at all, unless they are required for needs and similar considerations of fairness.  Although this sounds straightforward in principle – in practice, it is often very difficult for parties to agree on which category a particular asset should be regarded as.  To assist you, we must firstly consider whether the existence of a particular asset in question should be reflected at all in the overall financial settlement.  If it is regarded as fair and just to do so, then the question is how much of the asset should be included in the overall asset pot for distribution between the parties to form the basis of a financial settlement.  The length of the marriage and the duration of the asset are relevant here, as is the mixing and ‘mingling’ of the asset with marital property in circumstances where the contributor might be said to have treated it as marital property, as well as  whether it has been regarded as, or formed part of, the marital assets generally.  At Breakthrough, we can help you with these vitally important financial matters, by exploring with the help of Form E what constitutes a marriage ‘pot’ and consequently what would be regarded as forming part of a financial settlement.

As to maintenance for a spouse, on the breakdown of a marriage, before 1984 there was an expectation of financial support for a dependant spouse throughout their lifetime, following divorce.   However, recent case law suggests that, although uncertainty still exists both among family lawyers and the public, there is a distinct move towards  maintenance being payable for a term, rather than for life, so as to produce a clean break between the divorcing couple as soon as practically possible.  There is also increasingly an expectation in the Courts that the individual receiving the maintenance should move to independence and self-sufficiency as soon as possible.  Again the likelihood of this can be explored through the information gathered from the Form E, completed by both parties.

These are often complex matters, requiring specialist help and expertise in the preparation of the Form E which is a vital tool in determining a financial settlement, which we are ready and willing to provide you with at Breakthrough Family Law.

Call Breakthrough Family law on 01494 776696 for consultations in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Harrow and Mayfair, London.

During weekends or if you have an urgent matter, please call us on 07973 955775

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