The Financial Remedy
In many cases, you and your (ex)partner will be able to reach an agreement yourselves or with our help, through solicitor representation, mediation or collaborative law. If so, our specialist team of family lawyers can draft the necessary paperwork to be approved by the court.
If you can’t reach an agreement, it may be necessary to issue financial remedy proceedings. Before you make an application to the court, you may have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to explore whether it’s appropriate and beneficial for you to mediate a solution rather than litigate.
If you do end up making an application to court, there is a set procedure you need to follow:
We issue your application. The court will set a date for a First Directions Appointment (FDA) 12 to 16 weeks later. Prior to the FDA the following documents must be prepared:
Approximately five weeks before the FDA, both of you have to file at court and exchange with each other financial statement called a Form E. This is an up-to-date and accurate summary of your respective financial situations. It will include detailed information and supporting documents setting out your position. But don’t worry, we’ll help you complete it. Examples of documents which will need to be attached are the last 12 months’ bank statements, recent business accounts and a valuation of your pension rights. It’s never too early to start assembling this documentation and the more information you have at the start of proceedings, the better.
Two weeks before the FDA, both of you file at court and exchange the following documents:
- Chronology – This provides the court with a timeline referencing any significant events that may have an effect on your financial claims.
- Questionnaire and Request for Documents – The questionnaire sets out any gaps in the information or documentation provided by one or other of you which may prevent your case being resolved.
- Statement of Issues – This is a summary of the important aspects of your case. Its purpose is to focus everybody’s attention on the issues which need to be dealt with.
Both of you have to attend the FDA with your legal advisors unless you’re excused by the court. The judge will decide the extent to which the questionnaires need to be answered and whether any formal valuations need to be obtained, such as valuations of businesses, properties and pensions. Except in a very small number of cases, they’ll give a date for the next court appointment, called a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR). Sometimes, the FDA appointment can also be used as an FDR appointment if full disclosure has already been made.
Financial Dispute Resolution
The FDR is a ‘without prejudice’ court hearing. This means that any concessions you make in an honest attempt to reach a settlement can’t be used against you later on. Again, both of you and your legal advisors must attend personally. Seven days before the appointment, any offers for settlement which have been made must be sent to the court.
At the FDR, the judge listens to the legal advisors and considers all the papers in the case, including the offers. They’ll try to encourage a compromise by exploring common ground and dispelling any unrealistic expectations. They may also indicate what a court would consider to be a sensible solution for your case.
For this appointment to have a good chance of success, both of you will have to be honest and up-front, and you must have provided all the financial information required.
If you can reach an agreement at the FDR (and most people do), we’ll draw up an agreement and a judge will make a court order recording that agreement. This is called a consent order.
If you can’t reach an agreement, your case will proceed to a contested Final Hearing. The judge who deals with your case at a Final Hearing will not be the same judge who has heard the discussions at the FDR and anything mentioned at the FDR cannot be referred to at the Final Hearing.
There is usually a delay of at least four or five months between an FDR and a contested Final Hearing. Both of you will have to attend the hearing and will need to give oral evidence and be cross-examined by your partner’s legal representative.
Partner & Head of Family Law
Family Law Partner
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