Last week we looked at the principles that the courts use to decide financial remedy applications on divorce. This week we will look at the procedure on such applications including, in particular, the Form E financial statement.
To keep things simple we will divide the procedure into five stages, although what actually happens in any particular case may differ.
Stage 1 – The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (‘MIAM’).
Before issuing the application you may have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. As that name suggests, the primary purpose of the meeting is to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation. Some people are exempt from the requirement to attend a MIAM.
Stage 2 – The application (‘Form A’).
If the case does not go to mediation then the application will be made, by completing a ‘Form A’ and filing it with the court, with the requisite court fee. The court will then fix a date for the First Directions Appointment (‘FDA’ – see below), and timetable certain actions that should be taken by the parties. In particular, not less than 35 days before the FDA each party must file with the court and serve upon the other party a Form E financial statement, more of which in a moment.
Stage 3 – The First Directions Appointment (‘FDA’).
Both parties will have to attend the FDA. The main purpose of the FDA is to ascertain what the issues between the parties are, and to decide how the case should proceed. The court will then give directions as to what should happen next, and when.
Stage 4 – The Financial Dispute Resolution appointment (‘FDR’).
The next stage in the proceedings is usually a Financial Dispute Resolution appointment, or ‘FDR’. At the FDR the parties will be expected to use their best endeavours to reach agreement on the issues between them, with the assistance of the judge. If agreement cannot be reached, then the court will fix a date for the final hearing.
Stage 5 – The final hearing.
A full hearing of the case, at the end of which the judge will make their decision, and a final order will be made.
The Form E financial statement is the most important document each party will have to prepare in the course of the proceedings. In it, they must disclose full details of their means, including their income, their savings and capital assets, their pensions and any debts they have. In addition, certain specified documentary evidence, such as bank statements, must be attached to the form. You can see a Form E here.
Each party has a duty to fully and truthfully complete the Form E, as without full and accurate information about the means of both parties, the court cannot make a decision. Obviously, the other party does not have to accept the contents of the form at face value. If they believe that full disclosure has not been made then they can request further information or documentation in a questionnaire, which they will prepare before the FDA. The court can order the party to whom the questionnaire is directed to provide replies.
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If you are or may be involved in financial remedy proceedings then we would strongly recommend that you obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.
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