What to expect at a Financial Dispute Resolution

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22 February, 2022

If, after separation from your spouse or civil partner, you have not been able to reach an agreement as to how to separate the assets with the assistance of mediation or solicitors, the next step is to apply to court for financial remedy.

Once a party has issued an application, the court will issue the application and there will be directions given, including setting out your financial information within a Form E. Your spouse or civil partner will be required to complete the Form E also, and you will exchange the documents on the date set by the court.

Shortly after exchange of the Form E, the court will list the matter for a First Appointment. This hearing to help prepare the matter for the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR). The aim of the First Appointment is to set directions to ensure that you and your spouse or civil partner are fully informed and able to negotiate at the FDR.

At the FDR, you will each put forward your proposals as to how you feel that the matter should conclude. Time can be given to you and your legal representative outside of the court hearing to allow for constructive and effective negotiations. The hearing is usually listed for around an hour, but you will be expected to be available for the full day, to allow sufficient time for negotiations to take place.

If you are not able to reach an agreement at the FDR, the Judge cannot impose a decision at this stage, but they can give an indication as to what they would impose if it was a final hearing. This is often very beneficial as we are able to use this as a starting point for the negotiations.

The Judge who hears the matter at an FDR has no further involvement with the case.

It is intended that an agreement is reached at an FDR, by agreement. Agreeing at this stage prevents the need for a final hearing and therefore will save you costs, time and the stress associated with litigation.

Despite this, in some cases it is not possible to reach an agreement at the FDR. If you are close in reaching an agreement, the Judge can list the matter for an adjourned FDR at a later date, to give you and your spouse or civil partner additional time to deal with the areas still in dispute.

If the FDR was not effective at all, the Judge will list the matter for a final hearing. If an agreement still has not been reached by time of the Final Hearing, the Judge will impose an outcome. This is the least favourable outcome for everyone, as it may result in an outcome that neither of you are happy with.

It is rare for a matter to progress to a final hearing, as usually further negotiations take place between the FDR and the final hearing, in the hope of avoiding the costs and stress associated.

For more information contact Rachael Sutcliffe in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01772 220 022. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Family/Divorce department here

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