A simple technical error in a form may mean that thousands of divorce settlements have been incorrectly calculated.
It recently came to light that Form E, which is available on the Ministry of Justice's website, fails to deduct debts when calculating net assets. Financial settlements and payment schedules for maintenance based on this version of the form may therefore be incorrect.
The form has been downloaded nearly 20,000 times since the erroneous version appeared in April 2014. The error occurs if the form is used to automatically calculate net assets. It is thought mainly to affect those who arranged their own divorces, although others may be affected if their solicitor used the form.
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has said that it aims to contact people who may have been affected as soon as possible. A spokesperson said that HMCTS will 'identify rapidly cases where this regrettable error may have had an impact'. Anyone who thinks they may have been affected has been asked to email HMCTS.
The discovery of this error may lead to the renegotiation of thousands of divorce settlements, and will lead to a reduced income for those in receipt of maintenance payments calculated using the faulty form.