Law Commission welcomes new steps to gather financial data on divorce

The Law Commission welcomes the publication of a revised version of Form D81 in February 2022.

The form, available here, is the statement of information about parties’ financial circumstances used to support applications for a consent order in financial relief proceedings on divorce. The form helps the court decide if the financial and property arrangements agreed between ex-partners are fair.

In our Report on Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreement we noted the potential benefit of the development of a numerical formula to guide couples on likely financial outcomes on divorce. We explained that one of the building blocks for developing a formula was the need for empirical data to be gathered “from the ground up” of financial relief provided in divorces. Gathering such data is essential to provide divorcing couples with a realistic expectation of their financial provision, given that reported High Court decisions focus on big-money cases, which bear little resemblance to the vast majority of divorces.

In 2019, the Law Commission joined forces with the Family Remedies Court (FRC) judiciary, led by Mr Justice Mostyn, along with family law academics and officials from the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Services, with the aim of gathering together the essential details of every case decided finally by the FRC, whether following a hearing or compromise. The revised Form D81 is the culmination of the group’s work to date.

We are extremely grateful to Mr Justice Mostyn for his leadership of this significant piece of work, which marks a vital step in the data-gathering exercise.