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