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Divorce software error hits thousands of couples

Member: Nifa

It was revealed just before Christmas that a software glitch with Ministry of Justice (MoJ) ‘Form E’ might have cause the financial settlement of thousands of divorced couples to be incorrect.  Following the discovery, the MoJ has launched an investigation into the issue and will be writing to anyone affected as soon as possible. Those affected may have to re-negotiate settlements.

The error, which is thought to have existed since April 2014, was on Form E, which is the document that discloses a couple’s finances, where a table of assets failed to subtract liabilities from the total, thereby inflating the wealth of some parties. Once the mistake was discovered, Justice Secretary Michael Gove apologised, saying that it compounded what is inevitably already a very stressful time in people’s lives.

Following a landmark ruling at the Supreme Court in October, divorce settlement cases can be reopened if someone discovers that their former spouse lied about their wealth during the proceedings and this applies to errors too. 

In order to get a true picture of how much a spouse actually has, the best remedy would be to engage a forensic accountant, who is experienced in settlements and can pull together all the information related to ‘the other side’. They will look at everything from business expense accounts to bank statements to ensure that Form E is accurately filled in with evidence to back up the final figures.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 11 January 2016

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