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Divorce - a family law guide to court managed financial proceedings

View profile for Charlotte Coyle
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This note sets out the key legal terms and definitions for court managed financial proceedings.

The family law team at Goodman Derrick have years of experience advising divorce and helping you understand and navigate the process. Please contact any one of the team for an initial conversation.

Court proceedings and a court imposed timetable can help to prevent delay in dealing with the finances.

Either party to the divorce proceedings is entitled to make a financial application to court. Issuing proceedings should not be seen as an aggressive tactic. Court proceedings and a court imposed timetable can help to prevent delay in dealing with the finances.

The court fee to issue a financial application is currently £255. Generally speaking, financial proceedings involve a three stage process:

  • The First Directions Appointment hearing (“FDA”)
  • The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (“FDR”)
  • The Final Hearing

Stage 1 – the FDA hearing

In advance of the FDA hearing the parties are required to file and exchange financial disclosure. This is completed by way of Forms E. Parties are also obliged to provide supporting documents.

Your Form E is a very important document. As well as detailing your financial position this documents often provides you with the first opportunity to, effectively, set out your case.

The parties are also obliged to file documents including a Chronology, a Statement of Issues and a Questionnaire (if advised).

The Chronology and Statement of Issues are important tools which can be used to set out the relevant background and to summarise and hopefully narrow down the issues which are either already in dispute or are likely to be in dispute. The purpose of the Questionnaire is to query the disclosure which has been provided by your spouse and to ask for further documents.

At the FDA hearing the judge will set a timetable to manage the proceedings. Directions might include:

  • Deadlines to provide replies to Questionnaires or Requests for Documents 
  • Deadlines and the process to obtain any expert evidence
  • Timetable to prepare for and to list the FDR

Stage 2 – the FDR hearing

The FDR hearing is a forum for negotiation and discussion which takes place with the assistance of a judge. In order to encourage negotiation the FDR hearing is privileged, which means that offers which have to be made by the parties during the hearing cannot be referred to in the future if the case does not settle. The judge presiding over the FDR hearing will try to assist the parties by hearing their respective arguments and making observations or recommendations.

Generally FDR hearings involve a long and demanding day at court. Negotiations between the parties take place outside the court room but the judge is available to provide guidance and, ultimately, to make directions.

If you have instructed a solicitor and/or a barrister then negotiations will take place through them. They will be able to advise you on the offers which you make or receive during the course of the day. 

If a settlement is not reached at the FDR hearing the judge will list a Final Hearing and will otherwise have no further involvement in the case. 

Stage 3 – the Final Hearing

A final hearing will only take place if it does not prove possible for the parties to reach an agreement by negotiation. At the end of the FDR hearing the court will make further directions to deal with any supplementary financial disclosure, filing and exchange of witness statements and fix a date for the hearing which is likely to be at least 6 months following the FDR.

The final hearing is likely to be the most stressful part of the proceedings. A solicitor will work with you in order to ensure that you are prepared and that your case is presented in the best possible way.

Goodman Derrick – Family Solicitors based in London

Our London based Family law team guide our clients through the legal process so as to minimise the financial costs and to achieve the best possible outcome, the group:

  • provides legal advice and support for divorce and separation
  • specialises in the resolution of financial issues arising through a relationship breakdown
  • drafts and negotiates cohabitation agreements and pre and post-nuptial agreements
  • focuses on child arrangements and UK and international surrogacy and parental order applications

Goodman Derrick LLP - A London law firm focused on delivering an exceptional service to ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs.

More information

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.