Form E fault may lead to thousands of divorce cases being re-opened

18 Dec 2015

The news of an error in the Government's online Form E service for calculating divorce financial liabilities has led to speculation that thousands of divorce cases may need to be reopened.

Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution, comments:

"The error identified in the Form E could, unfortunately, affect thousands of people (around 120,000 divorce in England and Wales each year). Depending upon the extent of the liabilities which were not deducted in individual cases due to the glitch, it could lead to many financial orders having to be revisited. In practical terms, this is most likely to impact upon self-represented litigants, as most solicitors use different software not affected by the error.

It is unfortunate that so many self-represented litigants have relied upon the Government's online Form E tool and now potentially face having their cases reopened. This illustrates yet again the desirability of litigants having access to at least limited legal advice. Most family lawyers use their own tools to calculate financial settlements and can give tailored advice. Since the legal aid cuts in April 2013, the number of cases in which both parties have no representation has trebled, to around 31% of private law cases. Finances on divorce can be incredibly complex and the Form E error highlights the struggles that many people face navigating their divorce without representation since the removal of legal aid."

ENDS

To speak to Jo Edwards or arrange an interview please contact Fiona Ivits at fiona.ivits@resolution.org.uk