‘Tis the season…to reopen your divorce settlement?

Author: Teresa Cullen

It emerged last week that a software error on the financial statement form (more commonly known as the Form E in divorce proceedings) produced by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) – on their website, no less – may lead to thousands of financial settlements needing to be reopened as they are based on incorrect calculations.

Paragraph 2.20 of the Form E is the subject of this error. It is meant to produce a net worth figure by adding the assets and subtracting the liabilities of the spouse. However, since April 2014, it has been miscalculating a spouse’s financial worth by not deducting the spouse’s liabilities from their assets. This simple mathematical software error may mean that many spouses’ financial worth may appear to be a lot higher, which in turn could have led to unfair financial settlements.

Speaking on The World at One on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Justice) said: “It is deeply regrettable that a form was online since April 2014, which has meant … up to 17,000 people may have had the allocation of resources, at what is an inevitably stressful time in their life, miscalculated.”

The error was spotted earlier this month, and the MOJ have now released an updated version of the Form E.

The moral of the tale is perhaps to rely on the old fashioned mental arithmetic – or perhaps a calculator.  Most settlements conducted via solicitors (such as ourselves) are unlikely to be caught up in this difficulty, as we have certain safeguards built in – the trusty abacus is not quite obsolete!

If you feel you may have been affected by this error, and wish to discuss this or any aspect of your financial settlement, please contact Teresa Cullen.

Teresa Cullen, Partner, Fladgate LLP (tcullen@fladgate.com)



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