My first ever divorce consultancy client was a lovely lady who was struggling with her divorce. Despite having been living apart for over a year, little progress had been made to move the legal case forward.
The client explained how she had been feeling emotionally raw about her recent separation and had felt intimidated by the long legal form she was asked to complete by her solicitor. Things had got on top of her and she had placed the Form E under her bed and there it had stayed for over a year, untouched. She knew she would feel so much better once the Form had been completed but she didn’t know where to start.
I worked with her to help collect together the relevant financial information and complete the Form E itself. She felt very proud when handing it over to her solicitor and was so relieved to know that her legal case could finally move forward.
What is the Form E and why is it important?
The Form E (Financial Statement) is the standard document used to present each person’s financial details in the financial case of a divorce. It is a lengthy, “filling in the box” form setting out all the details of a person’s assets, liabilities, income and outgoings. It is accompanied by copy documents to prove the information provided in the Form is correct – e.g. bank statements, mortgage redemption statement etc.
Taking the practical steps to complete the Form E and provide your solicitor/mediator with full details of your financial position is known as providing “full and frank financial disclosure”. This is a crucial part of the legal process and needs to take place before any progress can be made towards reaching a financial settlement. The legal professionals need to know what each person’s financial position is, to establish the value of the matrimonial pot. Only then can negotiations take place to reach a financial settlement.
To find out the options about how to approach reaching a financial agreement, read my blog – How To Approach Reaching A Financial Settlement.
Why people find the Form E challenging
It is not unusual for people to find completing the Form E quite challenging. In my experience, this can be for various reasons, for example –
Not having been the money manager in the marriage
It is quite common for one half of the couple not to have been very involved in money decisions during the marriage. This could have been out of choice, where one spouse agrees to trust the other with the family’s finances and doesn’t feel the need to be involved. But unfortunately, I also come across lots of clients who tell me that their spouse took charge of all money matters for the family and refused to consult with them, despite them wanting to be involved.
Whatever the reason, when they find themselves in a divorce situation, the individual who was not involved in the money making decisions during the marriage, can often feel embarrassed and intimidated by their lack of knowledge and understand of the family finances. This can result in them feeling “on the back foot” when it comes to addressing financial issues in a divorce case. This can feel uncomfortable.
Finding the Form E confusing and feeling under pressure to complete it
Many clients when they first come to me do not feel they have a good understanding of how to approach collecting the financial information and completing the Form E. I’m sure many lawyers would agree that the Form E is not necessarily easy to navigate if you are not a qualified legal professional. Many of the questions are not very clear and there is a “knack” to completing the Form which clients would not be aware of, without assistance.
Many of my clients are busy people and are often time poor. They are keen to move the divorce case forward but are struggling to find the time and capacity to do so. They need a clear strategy of how best to approach things and a straightforward plan on how to achieve it.
Difficult emotions getting in the way of the practical steps done
Going through divorce can be a challenging time and is often filled with lots of difficult emotions. It can be hard to keep a clear head. Dealing with legal forms and financial information can be stressful and complicated. You are trying to coming to terms with the big changes to your family dynamic and are now having to navigate through a legal process which can feel overwhelming. Paperwork is the last thing you feel like doing but you know that its necessary for things to move forward.
I have also found that some people find providing details of their personal finances to legal professionals uncomfortable. They are self-conscious about seeing their private information included in legal documents and having to discuss it openly with divorce lawyers/mediator.
How I can help
Making sure your financial information is presently correctly and thoroughly, can save you both time and money in the legal process. I can help with this in the following ways:
I have created a series of helpsheets to help explain; how to approach collecting your financial information; how to complete your Form E for your solicitor/mediator; how the Form E fits in to the financial part of your divorce case. You can follow the advice in my helpsheets to help you take control of your Form E.
2. Advice and support
You can complete the Form yourself with help and support from me along the way. I can answer any questions you have, to help ensure your Form and documents are completed and presented properly. We can then check through the completed form together before you present it to your solicitor/mediator.
3. Practical help
Many of my clients prefer for me to complete the Form with them. We still down together and fill it in page by page. I talk them through how the Form works and create a plan for them on how to collect the required documents and present the information. I can help to ensure the finished product is exactly what your solicitor/mediator needs.
“You helped me organise myself with this so well. It is a little overwhelming at first, but with your help it gave me back some control. Very useful service.” – Mrs R from Surrey
“I hate forms at the best of times and found it invaluable to have someone that I could ask for help. Her assertive approach alongside her sensitivity made me feel safe and confident to tackle the tasks ahead”. – AD from Surrey
“Oh my word, the dreaded Form E. It was great going for my meeting with the solicitor already prepared by you with my file of documents ready to complete it. A great service indeed.” – A From Surrey
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.
If you’d like to work with me 1:1, for help with your Form E or any other aspect of the divorce process, please get in touch to find out how I can help.
Why I became a divorce consultant.