If an agreement can be reached either through negotiations or mediation the we simply draft a Consent Order and this is lodged with the Court for the Judge to seal.
If however, agreement cannot be reached then an application is filed with the Court and the following procedure is followed:
One party will issue an application setting out the orders sought and the Court will then allocate the case a hearing date. Prior to the first hearing disclosure of finances will be ordered through a strict timetable set by the court. Disclosure will take place trough completion of a Form E by each party. If further questions arise from the disclosure then a question is served on the party prior to the first hearing (First Appointment) with a Chronology, Statement of Issues and a Costs form. If full disclosure has occurred then the matter can be heard as a First Dispute Resolution Appointment FDR – allowing the parties to spend as much time as possible at Court to negotiate a settlement.
B) The First Directions Appointment (FDA):
At this hearing the Judge ensure that all documentation has been completed properly, considers the questionnaires and sets a strict timetable for further disclosure of necessary so that the next hearing can be utilized efficiently to negotiate a settlement.
C) The Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR):
Prior to this hearing both parties would have followed the directions ordered at the previous hearing meaning that full disclosure has taken place. Offers of settlement should also have been exchanged. At the hearing the Judge gives an indication as to how matters may be settled and that allows as much time as needed to negotiate a settlement between barristers acting for both parties. The same Judge cannot preside over the final hearing as he/she would have been privy to the negotiations.
D) The Final Hearing:
At the final hearing both parties will give evidence with any valuers and the District Judge will then make a decision. These hearings are costly and stressful and should be avoided if at all possible.
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