ines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; F for Financial Dispute Resolution
Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series. Today’s topic is Financial Dispute Resolution.
So what is an FDR?
The FDR is usually the second Court hearing in matrimonial, financial relief proceedings. It is short for Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.
At this stage, you and your spouse should have all of the financial information you need to feel comfortable reaching a settlement and many cases do settle at this point. The purpose and aim of the FDR hearing is to encourage discussion and negotiation between both parties. It is important to think of this hearing as an opportunity to hear what a Judge has to say, with a view to reaching a resolution. Achieving a settlement at this stage could save considerable further expense compared to the cost of a Final Hearing.
So what happens at an FDR?
Each party will meet with their legal representative an hour or so before the hearing is scheduled to take place. This gives you the opportunity to discuss the outcome you would like to achieve and discuss anything that may be causing you concern. This is also an opportunity to narrow any issues and see if some elements of your case are agreed. Your representation will ask you questions to understand the range of settlements you would be prepared to accept so that they know the frame within which they can negotiate on your behalf.
At this stage, it is usual for both parties’ legal representatives to discuss matters to understand the other party’s position and to get a feel for their desire to settle.
What about the hearing?
During the hearing, the Judge will generally give an indication as to which elements of each party’s position he prefers and the decision he would make if the matter was at Final Hearing stage. The parties do not usually give evidence, but the Judge will look at all relevant information, including without prejudice offers made by each side, to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.
The FDR hearing is “without prejudice”. This means that if matters cannot be agreed, the Judge who hears the FDR is not permitted to hear the Final Hearing.
If there are any remaining areas of disagreement at FDR, further directions can been made and incorporated into a court order showing what further evidence is needed before the matter can proceed to a Final Hearing. . A solicitor can advise you in advance of the FDR on whether any further information is required to understand the full financial picture and you should not worry if you feel that you need more information before you can reach a settlement with your spouse or partner.
Can negotiating continue after the hearing?
Definitely! Both parties will be actively encouraged by the Judge, and hopefully their legal representatives, to negotiate and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on the day. Although most FDRs are only listed for an hour, you should expect to spend the whole day at Court if negotiations go well.
If an agreement is reached at FDR, whenever possible the legal representatives will seek to finalise a draft order on the day and ask the Judge to approve it.
Equally, if matters have not settled at FDR this does not mean that you cannot continue to negotiate. There is often several months between the FDR and the Final Hearing and if matters have not settled this time allows time for valuable discussion and negotiations to see if matters could still be resolved outside of Court.
For various reasons, in some cases matters do not settle and asking a Judge to decide how to divide assets between former spouses or civil partners is the only option. If matters are not agreed at the FDR stage, the Judge will fix a date for a Final Hearing.
If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice remember obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. Call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.
By Administrator on 20 Sep 2019, 08:00 AM