Form E- divorce.
,

What is a ‘Form E’ in divorce proceedings?

Whichever way you choose to resolve property and financial issues during a divorce, it is likely that you will have to complete a Form E at some point.

Our head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko, explains all.

What is a Form E?

A Form E requires you to set out the financial needs of yourself and your children during the divorce process.

You and your spouse must give full disclosure of all of your finances, including your income, your savings, expenses, properties you may own, and any pensions.

Filling in a  Form E can be a daunting process but we are here to help. It runs to 30 pages and requires detailed information regarding your financial circumstances and also requires you to provide documents which confirm what you have said.

Form E provides the information for your financial order.  It is a financial order in a divorce that makes your agreement as to how you will split your finances legally binding.

The process of filling in a Form E.

We make the process of filling in a Form E as painless as possible.

As a starting point, we usually ask our clients to complete a Form E in draft as we feel that it is the best way for us to get the information and documents that we require.

If we ask you to do this there is no need to worry about making a mess of the Form E or putting the information in the wrong section because it is only a draft document for us to work from.

Instead of asking you to prepare a list of your income needs on a blank page, we will provide you with a comprehensive budget form which is designed to capture all of your monthly outgoings. When preparing your monthly budget form, start with your direct debits and standing orders first. You will then need to think about your regular supermarket shopping and things that you pay for in cash.

So where do you start with the rest of the Form E?

A good place to start is at the back of the form where there is a checklist of documents that need to be attached. We suggest that you have one session where you set aside 30 minutes to an hour to gather those documents together. That is part one of the task completed.

We then suggest that you set aside another hour, or so, to complete part two of the task which is to go through your documents and extract the information needed for the form.

This process makes the task more manageable to break it into two separate chunks of time. Schedule time in your diary to deal with these tasks.

What happens once I have prepared all the information for the Form E?

Make sure that you get your completed form and documents to your solicitor at least a week before any deadline for exchange. Your solicitor will need time to prepare what is called the ‘fair copy’ and get it approved and signed by you.

Once we have the draft Form E, we will then set aside some time to start preparing the fair copy. It is when we start doing this that we can tell if there is anything still missing and if any of our client’s financial circumstances are still unclear. If this is the case, we will arrange a telephone conversation with the client to seek clarification and go through outstanding matters with them.

When the fair copy is completed we can then submit it.

If you have any queries relating to divorce or any other aspects of Family Law please contact Joanna Toloczko on 0207 703 5034 or email her at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk.

Cost of Divorce
,

Who Pays the Costs in Divorce Cases?

Joanna Toloczko, Head of Family Law at Meaby&Co Solicitors, outlines who pays the costs of getting a divorce.

We are here to advise on all of your divorce queries. Please do not hesitate to call us for a free, no-obligation discussion on 0207 7035034 or you can email Joanna directly at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk.

Visit our Family Law page for more information on how we can help.

The costs of divorce.

It is important to understand that there may be up to three sets of costs associated with a divorce:

  1. The costs of getting the marriage dissolved
  2. Costs relating to proceedings regarding the children
  3. The costs relating to the property and financial aspects of the divorce.

1. Who pays the costs of getting the marriage dissolved?

The costs relating to the divorce itself are usually relatively modest and very often the Petitioner (person who starts the proceedings) will pay the costs themselves and not bother to seek a contribution from the other party.

Alternatively, the parties may agree that the Respondent (the person who receives the Divorce Petition) will pay half of the Petitioner’s costs. This is because, even if the Respondent has engaged a solicitor and has their own costs to pay, the Respondent’s costs will be less than the Petitioner’s costs as the Petitioner’s solicitor does most of the work in connection with the process and has to pay the £550 court fee.

On some occasions, usually where the divorce is on the basis of the Respondent’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour, the Petitioner may seek an order that the Respondent pays their costs in full. The Respondent has an opportunity to respond to the claim on the Acknowledgement of Service form. The District Judge then certifies whether the Petitioner is entitled to an order for costs. If either party wishes to contest the Judge’s decision they can attend a hearing and make representations.

2. Who pays the costs relating to divorce proceedings regarding the children?

In proceedings regarding the arrangements for the children, the order is always (apart from a small number of exceptions) “No order as to costs”.  This means that each party pays their own legal costs.

Presumably, the policy decision behind this is that people should not be discouraged from making applications where the interests of a child are at stake.

3. Who pays the costs relating to the property and financial aspects of the divorce?

With regard to financial remedy proceedings, the costs order is also nearly always “No Order as to costs”. Again, this means that each party pays their own legal costs.

The exceptions usually relate to “litigation misconduct”. For example, a party may be ordered to pay the costs of the other party if they fail to attend a hearing, don’t file documents on time or fail to comply with court orders.

On 27th May 2019 the rules were amended to provide that the court will take a broad view of conduct when considering costs and will conclude that a failure to openly negotiate reasonably and responsibly will generally amount to conduct in respect of which the court will consider making an order for costs.

The Family Procedure Rules Committee is now consulting on whether to re-introduce consideration of whether a party has acted reasonably in the course of negotiations by taking into account how the final order compares to offers which have been made “without prejudice save as to costs”.

Until 2006 the court would almost always make an order for costs against a party who failed to “beat” an offer by the other party that was made on a “without prejudice as to costs” basis. The downside to this was that it was often difficult to determine whether a party had beaten a particular offer, particularly where there were a number of assets to be divided between the parties. The benefit was that the rule forced parties to act reasonably and give serious consideration as to whether they should accept or reject a particular offer. It is not intended that this rule will be re-introduced in such a stringent way.

If you are concerned about issues relating to the legal costs of family law proceedings, please contact our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko on 0207 7035034 or at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk

,

A Meal Ticket For Life?

A Supreme Court decision, given last week, is being hailed in some quarters as the end to what  campaigners  see as a “meal ticket for life” for divorcing wives, but is that really the case?

Mr and Mrs Mills divorced in 2002 and an order was made which awarded Mrs Mills a lump sum to meet her housing needs and spousal maintenance payments of £1,100 per month until she remarried or one of the parties died. Mrs Mills bought and sold a number of different homes and ended up with significant debts. Eventually, she moved into rented accommodation.

In 2014 Mr Mills made an application to discharge or at least reduce the maintenance payments on the basis that Mrs Mills had badly managed the original capital award and that she was able to increase her income by working more. Mrs Mills applied to increase the monthly maintenance payments on the basis that the current payments were not sufficient to meet her basic  needs.

The Family Court left the maintenance payments as they were. The Court of Appeal allowed Mrs Mills’ appeal and increased them to cover an element of rent. The Supreme Court this week allowed the appeal of Mr Mills and ordered that the original maintenance order should remain in force but that there should be no increase to cover rental costs, given that provision had already been made for Mrs Mills’ accommodation in the 2002 order and she had mismanaged those funds.

Our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko comments: “Many of my clients, both husbands and wives, are surprised to learn that there is such a thing as spousal maintenance, assuming that maintenance is only available for children. Indeed, there are many European jurisdictions where that is the case. There is also a big difference in the approach of Family Courts in different parts of the country as to whether an order for spousal maintenance should be made and, if so, what the correct level of maintenance is and when it should come to an end.

Although some people are hailing the Mills case as another nail in the coffin for payment of maintenance for life, it should be remembered that the Supreme Court upheld the original joint lives maintenance order and only declined to increase it to cover rental payments.”

For advice on maintenance payments for children and spouses and all other financial remedies, contact Joanna on jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk or 0207 703 5034.

 

,

Landmark Ruling in Civil Partnership case

On 27th June 2018 the Supreme Court handed down judgement in the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who had been involved in a three and a half year struggle regarding the right of opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.

Civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005 for same sex couples only. Same sex couples were able to marry from March 2014. Steinfeld and Keidan did not wish to marry as they regarded the institution of marriage as patriarchal and sexist. Instead, they wished to enter into a civil partnership as they felt that this would reflect their values and lend legal recognition to the equal nature of their  committed and long term relationship. They sought judicial review of the government’s decision not to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples on the basis that it discriminated against them and breached their human rights. They lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal but won their appeal in the Supreme Court.

The government equality office is now understood to be considering a thorough review of civil partnerships – however there are only two ways forward – either to abolish them all together – raising a question mark over the legal status of existing same sex civil partnerships or to extend them to opposite sex couples.

Since the couple started their legal battle they have had two children. Interestingly, instead of giving the children  solely their father’s surname or double-barrelling the two surnames (which they considered to be patriarchal) they have given them the fused family surname of Keidstein. I can’t help thinking that this is easier to do with some surnames than with others!

This case raises interesting questions over whether the institution of marriage is fit for purpose in  modern day society when there are very many different family models, rather than just the traditional nuclear family unit.

If you require a modern approach to family law issues it is recommended that you contact Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko at Meaby&Co for timely advice: jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk or call 0207 703 5034.

,

Appointing a Family Law Solicitor

The best way to choose a solicitor is always by personal recommendation, but you may not know anyone who has recently been through a divorce, or you may have several recommendations and cannot choose between them – where do you start?

These days you can obtain a lot of information about solicitors from their online presence – their firm’s websites, their Linkedin Profiles etc. You should look at the length and breadth of their experience, areas of specialisation, professional memberships, whether they are also trained mediators and/or collaborative lawyers and their general “style”.

Always check to see whether a solicitor is a member of Resolution – the leading organisation of family lawyers in England and Wales. If they are this indicates that they have considerable  experience in family law and that they abide by a Code of Practice which promotes a constructive and non-confrontational approach to resolving disputes, designed to maintain the dignity of the parties and to prioritise the needs of any children. Have a look at the Resolution website. It has a large public area which is a great source of up to date information regarding family law – www.resolution.org.uk.

Give your shortlist of solicitors a call. Most solicitors are happy to have an initial chat on the phone and you should be able to gauge whether you are likely to get on with the solicitor during the telephone call.

Beware the free 30 minute consultation. It is impossible for a solicitor to gather all of the relevant information from you and give you well-considered and comprehensive advice in such a short period of time and you will usually just be given some generic information and encouraged to make a further appointment. Cost is always a consideration but bear in mind that you usually get what you pay for in this life. Solicitors usually charge on a time basis. Ask if they offer any fixed fee work. Ask the solicitor’s hourly rate.

If you are considering appointing a family solicitor please contact our Head of Family, Joanna Toloczko at jtoloczko@meaby.co.uk for a no obligation chat on the telephone.