Divorce Court Order Financial Disclosure
What is a Court order divorce proceeding?
Court proceedings and a court imposed timetable can help to prevent delay in dealing with the finances. Either party to the divorce proceedings is entitled to make a financial application to court. Issuing proceedings should not be seen as an aggressive tactic. Court proceedings and a court imposed timetable can help to prevent delay in dealing with the finances.
Which stages are involved when Court managed?
The court fee to issue a financial application is currently £275. Generally speaking, financial proceedings involve a three stage process:
- The First Directions Appointment hearing (“FDA”)
- The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (“FDR”)
- The Final Hearing
Stage 1 – the FDA hearing
In advance of the FDA hearing, the parties are required to file and exchange financial disclosure. This is completed by way of Forms E. Parties are also obliged to provide supporting documents.
Your Form E is a very important document. As well as detailing your financial position this documents often provides you with the first opportunity to, effectively, set out your case.
The parties are also obliged to file documents including a Chronology, a Statement of Issues and a Questionnaire (if advised).
The Chronology and Statement of Issues are important tools which can be used to set out the relevant background and to summarise and hopefully narrow down the issues which are either already in dispute or are likely to be in dispute. The purpose of the Questionnaire is to query the disclosure which has been provided by your spouse and to ask for further documents.
At the FDA hearing the judge will set a timetable to manage the proceedings. Directions might include:
- Deadlines to provide replies to Questionnaires or Requests for Documents
- Deadlines and the process to obtain any expert evidence
- Timetable to prepare for and to list the FDR
Stage 2 – the FDR hearing
The FDR hearing is a forum for negotiation and discussion which takes place with the assistance of a judge. In order to encourage negotiation the FDR hearing is privileged, which means that offers which have to be made by the parties during the hearing cannot be referred to in the future if the case does not settle. The judge presiding over the FDR hearing will try to assist the parties by hearing their respective arguments and making observations or recommendations.
Generally, FDR hearings involve a long and demanding day at court. Negotiations between the parties take place outside the court room but the judge is available to provide guidance and, ultimately, to make directions.
If you have instructed a solicitor and/or a barrister then negotiations will take place through them. They will be able to advise you on the offers which you make or receive during the course of the day. If a settlement is not reached at the FDR hearing the judge will list a Final Hearing and will otherwise have no further involvement in the case.
Stage 3 – the final hearing
A final hearing will only take place if it does not prove possible for the parties to reach an agreement by negotiation. At the end of the FDR hearing the court will make further directions to deal with any supplementary financial disclosure, filing and exchange of witness statements and fix a date for the hearing which is likely to be at least 6 months following the FDR.
The final hearing is likely to be the most stressful part of the proceedings. A solicitor will work with you in order to ensure that you are prepared and that your case is presented in the best possible way.
Contact our family law team
If you would like to receive any further advice in respect to Court managed financial proceedings please contact one of the family law team.
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