Divorce form error leading to unfair settlements

Computerisation of legal forms is often seen as a way to streamline proceedings and to lessen the amount of paperwork needed. There has been a worrying development however in the software used for submitting a particular form used in divorce proceedings which may challenge this notion of a simplified and streamlined process.

At the beginning of divorce proceedings couples may be asked to complete a Form E which is basically an opportunity for the parties to disclose their assets. Incorrectly disclosing information can have serious consequences.

Nowadays in divorce proceedings couples have the option of either submitting their form E electronically or in a physical paper format. The majority of solicitors firms just use their own form E. We have our own electronic Form E and do not use the form E’s found on the ministry of justice website. (This applies to all our court forms as we do not rely upon the Ministry of Justice computerised system).  The specific problem has arisen from the Form E that was downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website. Their form E failed to take into account any liabilities entered earlier in the form. If the error is not spotted then the false figures will lead to incorrect and unfair settlements. The BBC's legal correspondent Clive Coleman has stated that it is unknown how many people are affected but there are 120,000 divorces in England and Wales each year. However our clients and the majority of those who used the services of reputable solicitors are not affected.

If you have any concerns over the issues raised in this article please contact Jennifer Allen .