Also known as private FDRs a fairly recent option in resolving financial matters in divorce cases, and gathering interest.
Financial Dispute Resolution
Let us start at the beginning. What is an FDR? It stands for “Financial Dispute Resolution” and is a court appointment which must be attended by you and your ex-spouse if you are engaged in court proceedings which have been started by either of you as part of your divorce. Typically, quite early on in the financial remedies’ aspect of a divorce. It takes place after you have both exchanged full financial disclosure on a court form called a “Form E” and you each have all the information you need to negotiate a financial settlement.
The Family Court judge
The role of the judge at the FDR is to express an opinion in relation to the offers to settle made on both sides and explain how they would deal with the case if they were being asked to make a decision at a final hearing. All discussions at FDR and the views of the judge are “without prejudice” which means they cannot be disclosed or referred to at a final hearing if your case does not settle. This gives both sides some flexibility to offer compromises to try and settle which they may not be willing to offer at a final hearing.
High success rate, but a long waiting list
FDRs have a high rate of success. A high proportion of cases settle at FDR stage. But, it could take a long time before your case is listed to be concerned. There is an option which affords greater flexibility.
A private FDR is a simple concept. The parties pay for a financial remedy specialist to act as a private FDR judge. The private FDR takes place at a time convenient to the parties, usually in solicitors' offices or barristers' chambers, and a full day is normally set aside to maximise the prospects of settlement.
Essentially, the process is very similar to the court FDR. However, both parties effectively step away from the court process and pay a private FDR judge to oversee the case. Why do that?
Here are six advantages for opting for a private FDR:
- Higher success rate than in-court FDRs, saving additional legal fees.
- You have flexibility over the timing and location of the FDR. It can take place in the office of your solicitor or another agreed suitable location. Waiting rooms at court are limited and sometimes discussions between you and your representative on the day need to take place outside of those rooms. Whilst away from your ex and their representatives, this situation is far from ideal.
- You choose the identity of your FDR judge between you. They are usually highly experienced practitioners who have specialised in family law for years (typically barristers or retired judges). It is not unusual to have an in-court FDR with a judge whose career focussed on a different area of law.
- You can have access to your “judge” all day if you need to. Often with in-court FDRs the judge has other cases in his or her list can and can only be available for a few hours. This can be frustrating if you are close to settlement and need more input from the judge. It can often lead to another FDR hearing and additional costs which would far outweigh the cost of one private FDR judge being available all day.
- The judge will have had plenty of time to read all the papers and focus on your case only.
- It can often take months for an in-court FDR to be arranged, particularly if everyone’s availability needs to be factored in. Private FDRs can be arranged much quicker as you are not having to fit in with court availability.
Arranging a private FDR leaves you much more in control of the process and gives you a higher chance of reaching a settlement with your ex on the day.
The family law team at Langleys are able to recommend a number of highly experienced private FDR judges and have plenty of experience in arranging and representing clients at a private FDR.
You can talk to us in utter confidence on a range of matrimonial issues, the first consultation will not cost you anything, no matter how long it takes. Simply complete the contact form, email one of our team or ring 0330 0947777