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MoJ apologises for incorrect divorce settlement calculations

Error affected 2,235 cases which are now closed and may have to be reopened

22 January 2016

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The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has apologised for an error in the online Form E divorce form, which is used to calculate the net financial assets of a divorcing party.

The form features an automatic calculator and faulty versions of the form do not include a section to disclose liabilities. This can lead to an inflated calculation of a person's net assets, which in turn can result in an unfair divorce settlement as a party will be thought to be worth more money than they actually are.

Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, has submitted a written statement to parliament, setting out the scale of the error and apologising for the mistake.

'This failure should not have happened. Divorce proceedings can be very difficult and I sincerely apologise for this situation and any distress it may have caused,' Vara says in his statement.

The faulty forms were available to use between April 2011 to January 2012, and April 2014 to December 2015.

They were used in 3,638 cases, 1,403 of which are still live. The concerned parties have been notified.

The parties in the remaining 2,235 cases have also been notified of the error. They have the option to 'apply to the court to vary or set aside their order'.

Vara added: 'I have instructed that no court fee will be charged for making this application, and this is also made this clear in the letter from HMCTS [Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service].

'We are also uploading a new version of Form E which makes clearer how the calculation of net assets should be made. We will also consider the future of Form E as part of our broader court reforms and the automatic calculator function will be disabled during this process.'

 

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Family