Recent divorcees may need to recalculate settlements

Published by Tom Wilson on 29 December 2015.
Last updated on 29 December 2015

Tens, if not thousands, of divorcees may have to renegotiate their divorce settlement because of a government error that came to light this month.

The error involved a form on the Ministry of Justice’s website, used by divorcing couples and their lawyers to disclose each partner’s income, expenditure and net worth in order for a fair settlement can be made.

But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has admitted that there was an error in some of the calculations made.

Tens, if not thousands, of divorcees may have to renegotiate their divorce settlement because of a government error that came to light this month.

It wouldn’t expand on exactly what went wrong, but Moneywise understands the calculation exaggerated some people’s net worth, as assets, such as property and pension savings, were considered, but liabilities, such as mortgage debt, may not have been taken into account.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said: “An error has been identified in the automatic calculations used in the version of the Form E (Financial Statement) available on the HMCTS Form Finder website.

“Form E is the means by which parties disclose information about their assets and liabilities. The current online version has been corrected.”

Am I affected?

The error may affect people who used ‘Form E’ on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) website between April 2014 and December 2015 to submit details of each spouse’s assets and liabilities.

People who used paper versions of the form are not affected.

How many people have been hit by this error?

The MoJ wouldn’t tell us how many people are affected, though it appears it’s likely to be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people.

Mark Heptinstall, family law solicitor at Slater Heelis, says around 120,000 people get divorced each year in England and Wales alone, and the error was on the MoJ’s website for 20 months.  

I think I’m affected. What should I do? 

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service will write to people who have been affected directly.

A spokesperson says: “We are urgently investigating this issue. Officials are taking steps to identify rapidly cases where this regrettable error may have had an impact, and we will be writing to anyone affected as soon as possible.”

However, if you have concerns about your court proceedings, you can submit a query via formE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.

 

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