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  • 4 Mar 2022

    Divorce | Preparing for a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing

    What is a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing?

    An FDR is the second court hearing in proceedings for a financial solution in a divorce. It provides both parties an opportunity to negotiate a final financial settlement with assistance from their individual lawyers and a family judge.

    How do I prepare for an FDR Hearing?

    In January 2022, a statement on the efficient conduct of financial remedy hearings proceeding in the financial remedy court was released, outlining the rules around preparing for an FDR hearing that must be adhered to. Before the hearing, you must:

    • Provide proof of all financial assets and liabilities
    • Complete a Form E Statement (includes things such as future financial needs and children)
    • Review the former spouse’s financial information and Form E Statement
    • Any queries over missing information should be dealt with
    • Take time to consider areas where you could be flexible in order to reach an agreement

    Once all financial information has been discussed with your lawyer, you may put forward or receive a proposal to settle. If these are rejected by either party the court must know that this has occurred so that the judge can tailor their guidance. It’s important also to have a rough idea of where you may find the funds to buy out your former spouse’s interest in a shared asset, for example, the family home. Being open-minded, flexible, and having creative solutions will only benefit and serve you better in the long term.

    The FDR Hearing: What to expect

    The hearing can be a long day at court so be sure to have considered this and adjusted your day to accommodate for it. For example, booking the day off work or arranging childcare, and it would be advisable to bring water and snacks with you for the day. In the morning, you will often meet with your lawyer, and they will take any updated instructions as well as discussing with you the potential outcomes of the day. You and your former spouse’s case will then be put forward to the judge by your respective lawyers. The judge may then ask any questions they have and may use this opportunity to highlight if one party is being obviously unreasonable in order to encourage a rational approach to the hearing. At this point, the judge will provide an indication of what decision they would reach if the decision was being made there and then. This is simply an indication and not the final decision from the judge. Such indication and words from the judge can often encourage the parties to reach an agreement after further discussions outside of the courtroom. If this agreement can be reached, your lawyer will draft a document called a consent order for each party to sign and then this is approved by the judge to legalise the financial settlement.

    What if no agreement is reached at the hearing?

    If an agreement can’t be made at this stage, then your case will be listed for a final hearing and will take place in front of a different judge. The discussions from the FDR will not be disclosed to the new judge. There is normally several months that pass between an FDR and the final hearing. You will have to give evidence at the final hearing and this time a final decision will be made by the judge. It’s recommended that you and your former spouse try to reach an agreement before a final hearing as it will save you both time and money.

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