The Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR Hearing)

The Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR Hearing) comes after the First Appointment Hearing and before the Final Hearing. 

The purpose of the FDR Hearing is for a divorcing couple to try to settle their finances by agreement.

At the FDR Hearing your legal representative puts forward your case and assists the Judge with any queries the Judge may have. You do not speak at the Hearing.  After this the Judge gives an indication of how he or she might decide your case if this was your Final Hearing and you then leave the courtroom for negotiations. The Judge cannot then hear your Final Hearing.

Between your First Appointment Hearing and your FDR Hearing your solicitor is likely to have a lot of work to do to ensure your case is ready for the FDR Hearing so that the Judge will be in a position to give an indication.

In some cases there is little prospect of an agreement being reached for various reasons. Your case is unique and your solicitor is really the only person who can properly advise you on your case. My focus is simply on your role and what you can do to prepare.

It is important that you respond promptly to any requests from your solicitor for information even if your FDR Hearing seems a long way off. The information may seem unnecessary or it may be difficult to secure but you need to respond as promptly as you can. There will be a good reason why you have been asked for the information. You can of course ask for the reason if you are not sure !

At the FDR Hearing you have a crucial role to play in terms of proposals that are made and settlement decisions as ultimately only you can make these. You need to be ‘thinking straight’. This can be difficult to achieve on the day when you may also be feeling stressed and it is worth considering what might help you with advance of the FDR Hearing and prepare yourself accordingly.  

It is sensible to keep your diary clear for the FDR Hearing. If you have an appointment or perhaps children to collect then, if negotiations are protracted, you may find it stressful if time seems to be running out. Negotiations are usually protracted when there is a real prospect of agreement so in these circumstances it can be worth staying longer at Court than may have been planned for.   

It is not a sign of dependency or weakness to bring someone to be with you outside the courtroom. You may have to make a decision on an agreement fairly quickly in comparison to the time you will spend afterwards living with it. It is highly unlikely you will later be able to change your mind about any agreement you reach and you may find it comforting therefore to be able to consult with someone who knows you well and whose judgement you trust generally in life. The right person can also play a useful role if you feel stressed providing they are a calming influence of course !

Your mobile may be useful.  If you are on the brink of making a final decision you may want to call a friend or relative to discuss this, particularly if you have come on your own. Your mobile may also prove useful as there can be lengthy periods of time when you may be on your own in a bare room when your legal representative is off negotiating on your behalf.

The decisions you face at the FDR Hearing invariably involve figures and you may find it useful to have a pen, paper and a calculator with you if you wish to check figures or do your own calculations.

If you reach an agreement it is likely that you will both have had to make compromises to reach the agreement and both of you may feel you could have done better. You are unlikely to feel ecstatic but hopefully you will at least feel some sense of relief. You may wonder how on earth you got this far and question why you did not reach an agreement long before. You may feel a bit sad. This is all normal. In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that you may well feel the same after the next Hearing, the Final Hearing, when a Judge has decided your financial settlement for you and when your costs would be significantly higher.

Financial Dispute Resolution


To Blog or not to Blog. That is the question ?

I am told that blogging increases rankings on Google which is apparently all important in these click and go cyber times.  I have also been provided with a blog page to fill which has been called ‘Susan’s thoughts’.  Clever!  If I do not blog it looks like I have no thoughts. Not impressive in my line of work. So I have two choices.  I could simply change the title of the page or I could try blogging.

What to blog about?  What have I got to say that might be interesting or helpful?  What I write surely has to be my personal take on something.  There is a mass of factual information on the internet already and much of it is good. What’s the point of simply repeating that ?  I will soon be bored and the blog will come to a halt with no doubt an attendant drop in the apparently all important Google rankings.  It also seems disingenuous to just cut and paste without putting some effort in.

My specialism is family law so I have an obvious subject matter. I am also blogging on my website which is designed to give people going through relationship breakdown an idea of what instructing my firm means in terms of the work we do and the service we offer.  So, having given the question of blogging some thought and moaned a bit about the whole blogging thing I have decided that I shall apply my thoughts to random aspects of family law and possibly some other matters that those going through relationship breakdown might just find interesting.

I shall welcome feedback as this might help with inspiration and subject matter although too much negative feedback might just bring a sharp retort and a swift end to the whole blogging process. Or maybe not !  We divorce lawyers need a rhino hide or we wouldn’t last long in the job. I recall a colleague being referred to in correspondence as a human pig on legs by the party on the other side of a case. I was rather jealous at the time as an indicator of a good job being done in a contentious case can often be judged by the level of insult coming from an unrepresented party on the other side!  Or, just sometimes, from the vitriol of the instructed solicitor.

I digress already. Perhaps I might enjoy this blogging. Time will tell I expect but for now I shall be making a diary note to write and trying to work out when I might actually fit it in to my already busy working life.

Doncaster Divorce Lawyer


Hearings, First Appointment…

If you apply to the Court to progress a financial settlement there will be Hearings, the first of which being the aptly named ‘First Appointment’.
The purpose of the First Appointment, in simple form, is for a Judge to decide what needs doing so that all information needed to decide the case will be available for negotiations at the next Hearing. For example, if the parties cannot agree a property value the Judge may order a valuation.
There is more to say but my focus is not on the purpose of the First Appointment. There is plenty of information on the Internet already. My focus is on concerns you may have.
Much of what happens may go over your head at the First Appointment. This is not a patronising comment as I recall attending this Hearing as a note taking trainee many years ago and finding the Hearing difficult to follow.
The pace can be fast with the Judge and legal representatives conversing in their own language much of the time which can make it difficult to follow. There is also the stress that you might be feeling which is not conducive to a clear head.
Clients often tell me they slept badly the night before the Hearing. Why? I find this is not often about their case but other matters such as what may be said to the Judge about them and whether they may have to sayanything. There can be worries about seeing an ex-partner whom they may not have seen for a while. There may be the simple fear of the unknown. Court is often understood as a place where criminals are tried and TV drama doesn’t help.
Some worry about what to wear. The professionals involved invariably wear suits. My advice is that you wear something you feel comfortable in. I should perhaps add casual smart as I recall the client who turned up at Court in a string vest. The Judge made no comment but this was possibly a step too far in the comfortable department !
The Hearing should be without mud-slinging. The talking is done by the Judge and legal representatives.  The Judge is rarely, if ever, interested in hearing about ‘bad’ behaviour if it is not relevant to the case which it mostly isn’t. Nevertheless, not all legal representatives can resist a snipe, perhaps to give their client the perception that their representative has somehow ‘won’. When this happens the other legal representative is faced with the difficult choice of responding in kind or remaining professional and risking their client perceiving some sort of ‘weakness’ or ‘losing’.
Seeing an ex- partner can be difficult. You usually sit out of sight of each other before and after the Hearing. During the Hearing you may or may not sit in a position where eye contact is possible. Where eye contact is possible it is not unknown for the Judge to tell one party to stop eyeballing the other across the room, so staring is not a good idea.
The fear of the unknown may cause worry although after the Hearing parties often wonder what they had been so worried about. For some the Hearing feels an anti-climax. There is no ‘day in Court’ at the First Appointment. The issues that may be important to you and the hurtful behaviour by your ex-partner may not have been mentioned at all.
For all the worry it may cause, the First Appointment arguably serves a useful purpose in addition to its real purpose. It can get some worries out of the way which is important as you will need a clear head for the next Hearing (the Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing).