On its face, the Form A can appear a little daunting, despite being a relatively short application form. Not only by the sheer number of tick boxes but also the fact that this can be a difficult decision to make in the divorce process when resolving financial arrangements.
The Form A is the first application to court in obtaining a legally binding financial order. Divorcing couples are encouraged to do this as it means that there can be no further claims to finances in the future. One of the most common financial orders is referred to as a “clean break” where divorcing couples no longer have financial ties to one another.
You will likely have heard of the case of a lottery winner receiving a claim from their former spouse years after their separation due to not having a financial order!
At AMS, we believe that the court process should be as accessible as possible and understand the importance to you that your court forms are completed properly. This informative article details the process on how to complete a Form A application. This comprehensive guidance does not amount to legal advice and it should be recognised that every case is different; however we hope that this provides some support in making your application to court.
What is the Form A?
The Form A is the initial application to court to obtain a legally binding financial order following divorce. It provides for one or more of the following orders:
- An order for maintenance in the period between application and final judgment;
- A lump sum order;
- A property adjustment order (transferring property);
- A settlement or transfer of property for the benefit of the child(ren);
- A periodical payments order/financial provision/spousal maintenance;
- A pension sharing order; and/or
- A pension compensation sharing order.
Court should always be seen as a last resort option. In fact, mediation is strongly encouraged by the courts and you should be prepared to inform the court of any reason why mediation has not proceeded. Before your application to court, you should consider whether the financial arrangements can be resolved via mediation.
It is a requirement before completing the Form A that you attend what is known as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Since 2014, this has been a legal requirement before making an application to Court.
A MIAM is a confidential meeting with a Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA) mediator. At the MIAM you can expect:
- To be provided with information about the mediation process.
- To be provided with legal information (your mediator cannot provide legal advice)
- To explore the issues and your hopes for the future.
- For your mediator to assess the suitability of your case for mediation.
- For your mediator to answer any questions you may have.
There are effectively two outcomes after the MIAM, either:
- An invitation is sent to your ex-partner to attend their own MIAM and ultimately mediation;or
- You are issued with a mediation certificate that enables you to make an application to court.
The mediation certificate is in fact page 12 of the Form A which you will see below. It confirms your attendance at a MIAM as well as the reason why mediation has not proceeded. The certificate is most commonly issued at the MIAM stage where your mediator assesses the case as being unsuitable for mediation. It can be issued at a later date where, for example, your ex-partner declines mediation or mediation breaks down. You must provide the certificate to the court when issuing your Form A application. Your application will be returned to you without this.
There are exemptions to attending a MIAM which can be found at pages 8-11 of the Form A. These are quite specific and you should be certain that you meet the criteria for the exemptions before ticking them. Many clients choose to attend a MIAM if they are not sure whether they meet the exemption criteria as your mediator can assess this and if they consider that you meet that threshold, they may issue a certificate on the basis of unsuitability.
Below you will find a completed Form A application form.
Page 1 – Notice of [intention to proceed with] a financial application to which the standard procedure applies
You will first need to complete the box in the top right-hand corner.
You can find your nearest court here: https://www.gov.uk/find-court-tribunal
If you do not yet have a case number, you can leave this blank.
Help with fees is a benefit provided by the government to help towards the costs of your application. You can check your eligibility for help with fees here: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees. The application process is simple and online; once you have made your application you will be provided with a HWF ref number which you will include in the relevant boxes.
You will then need to complete the full name of both yourself and the other party.
You will notice that there is a paragraph inserted relating to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. The information is provided on the form and if this is applicable to your case, you will need to complete the EX740 form.
Page 2 – Nature of application
Page 2 of the Form A relates to the nature of the application. This is so that court understands exactly what it is that you are applying for. In this example, the spouses have applied for divorce, and received their conditional order, but have not yet received their final order.
As you will see, the applicant, Susan, has applied for a lump sum order by consent. In this example, Susan and Jeff were able to agree on their financial settlement at mediation and so the purpose of this application is to formalise that agreement by way of court order.
Generally, when completing page 2, you will need to select whether the application is in connection with matrimonial or civil partnership proceedings and subsequently, whether the court has granted a conditional order or a final order. You will need to attach a copy of this form. So, in Susan’s case, she will attach a copy of her conditional order.
A draft order of the consent order will be attached to the form by Susan. After mediation, Susan and Jeff will have sought legal advice and instructed an independent solicitor who will formalise the consent order. This document is then attached to the Form A.
Assuming that Susan and Jeff did not come to an agreement by consent then of course “no” would be ticked. In these circumstances, the Court will decide on the financial settlement. The Judge is the sole decision maker.
A consent order is still a financial order, but it is made by the agreement of both parties, rather than by the Judge. A consent order can be applied for at any time after the conditional order for divorce has been made. If your spouse changes their mind about the agreement and you do not have the consent order approved by the court, you cannot enforce it. However, if the consent order has been affirmed by the court, then you can ask the court to enforce it.
The consent order will look something like this:
There are rules on how a consent order should be drafted and what it can and cannot include. If you can afford it, you may wish to ask a solicitor to prepare and draft the consent order for you. Equally, your spouse could instruct their solicitor to do so. Due to the strict requirements and use of legal language, you may wish to seek some legal advice before signing a consent order to ensure it accurately sets out what you have agreed. Your solicitor should explain any parts you do not understand.
If you have to draft the consent order yourself, you can find a detailed example at https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/ family-orders-project/.
You could use the document called family remedy omnibus. It is a long document because it has examples of what types of orders the court can make in lots of different situations. Some of the sections may not apply to your situation but it is a good place to start.
In addition to the Form A, you will also need to send the court the following to apply for a consent order:
Form D81 (Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a financial remedy). Both you and your spouse need to complete this form providing full and frank information. You can both complete and sign one form or complete different forms, but you must make sure you have seen each other’s completed forms before signing yours.
The original consent order signed by both parties plus two further photocopies (if submitting online, you only need to submit one).
You will also need to pay the court fee. These change, so it is important to check the most up to date fee. You can check your eligibility for help with fees here: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees.
Page 3 & 4 – Further details of financial application
These pages ask for further details relating to:
- Property adjustment orders; and
- Periodical payments for children
Susan is not asking the Court to make any of these orders. If she were, the form is relatively self-explanatory and is pictured below.
Page 5 – Service details
Page 5 looks relatively straightforward, but it is really important you fill this in correctly. You will see there are three options:
- I am not represented by a solicitor in these proceedings (please give your address in the boxes below); or
- I am not represented by a solicitor in these proceedings but am receiving advice from a solicitor (please give your address in the boxes below); or
- I am represented by a solicitor in these proceedings, who has signed Section 5, and all documents for my attention should be sent to my solicitor whose details are as follows.
In our example, Susan has been receiving legal advice but has opted to not have representation at Court. As such, she has ticked option 2 and completed the document accordingly.
IMPORTANT: Note that on the right of the form there is a message regarding confidentiality. If you do not wish your spouse to know your current address then you must complete form C8: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c8-confidential-contact-details-family-procedure-rules-2010-rule-291
Page 6 – Service details
Page 6 continues from page 5 for general contact details. It also asks for the Respondent’s address for service. It is vitally important that an appropriate address is given here as without valid service your application will not be processed.
Page 7 – Requirement to attend a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Page 7 is incredibly important due to attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) being a legal requirement to proceed with an application to court, save in exceptional circumstances.
In Susan’s case, she has been through the mediation process and therefore has satisfied this requirement. As such, she has ticked no to all three options as below:
Page 8 – 11 – Applicant claims exemption(s) from attendance at a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Imagining that Susan and Jeff had not settled at mediation and that mediation did not go ahead – Susan may claim an exemption from the requirement to attend mediation. There are several options that could be chosen, including:
- Domestic violence;
- Previous MIAM attendance;
There are detailed options to tick based on which of the above options are selected. These are imaged below taken from the Form A:
Page 12 – Mediator certifies that the prospective applicant is exempt from attendance at Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or confirms MIAM attendance
Page 12 is not to be completed by you; it is to be completed by your mediator. In the event that none of the above exemptions apply to your case, you must attend a MIAM to discuss your case with a mediator. Your mediator will discuss your case with you confidentially and assess your suitability for mediation. In Susan’s case, a MIAM certificate was not necessary, but below is an example of what such a certificate could look like. In this example, Susan has attended a MIAM and the mediator assessed mediation as unsuitable.
Page 13 – Signature
Page 13 is the final page of the Form A and is your signature. It is important that this is completed in full for your application to be properly processed by the Court.
Pages 14 – 16 – Checklist for completing Form A
These pages are not imaged here but offer a useful checklist to use whilst completing the form to ensure that you have included everything you need to!
What happens next?
The Form A is step one to applying to the Court for a financial settlement. In Susan’s example, the form would have been lodged with the court and served on Jeff. Then, (likely without a formal hearing due to it being by consent and there being no contested matters), a Judge would review the consent order and make the financial order as agreed by the parties.
Nothing contained in this article amounts to providing legal advice and it is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice in relation to financial matters. The information in this article is correct at the time of writing.