How do i apply for a Financial Remedy prior to the Final Hearing?

An Application for Financial Remedies comes within the Pre-Action Protocol for mediation information and Assessment. Accordingly, before an Application is brought, generally the Applicant ought to contact a Family Mediator to arrange attendance at an information meeting about family mediation and/or other forms of dispute resolution. Evidence of compliance will then be lodged with the Application, when ultimately made. Mediation must at least have been considered, though there is compulsion to attend.

Every effort should then, in any event, be made to settle rather than to litigate.

Once the Application is initiated, and a Petitioner in a divorce would generally be advised to leave all possible Application in, rather than excluding any, Form A is filed with the Court. Once that is filed, an initial hearing (FA) will be ordered by the Court some 12 – 16 weeks from the filing date. Before this initial hearing, there needs to be simultaneous exchange of financial information by both parties. This is on Form E. This must be completed, served and filed not less than 35 days before the FA. Attached to Form E must be the supporting documents as evidence. Not later than 14 days before the FA each party must file and serve on the other party a concise Statement of Issues, a chronology, a request for further documents if required (or not) and a Notice in Form G stating whether either party will be in a position to use some or all of the FA as a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.

In addition, if possible, the parties should file with the Court a summary of what is agreed between them and details of any specific directions they require including any experts they wish to appoint.

No later than 14 days prior to the FA, the Applicant must file and serve confirmation that relevant Notice Provisions have been complied with (eg notice on a mortgagee).

A party with pension rights must request relevant valuation information within seven days of receiving a date of the FA.

Both parties must come to the FA with an estimate of their costs to date on Form H.

Both parties must attend the FA unless excused by the Court.

Every effort should be made to negotiate agreed terms, wherever possible. It avoids costs, if nothing else.

The next hearing is the FDR. Its aim is to achieve a settlement through disclosure and negotiation. It is the opportunity to put to the District Judge their fundamental positions. To this end, not later than seven days beforehand, Applicants must file at court details of all or any offers, with all or any responses of any nature. Both parties must generally attend the FDR. These hearings are heard in private. The process is referred to as “judicially assisted conciliation or negotiation.” The Judge is likely to express his or her own view, though this is not binding on any Judge deciding matters at the Final Hearing. This Judge must be a different Judge to the Judge who has been present at the FDR and his observations at the FDR are private. The purpose of the FDR therefore is to narrow down the issues and demonstrate to both parties what a Judge on a Final Hearing is likely to do. Every encouragement is given to settle the case.

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