For most people, (particularly those without children), one of the most important stages of a separation is the financial settlement. When managed badly it can fuel acrimony and dispute, cause bitter fall outs and long, unhappy divorce processes.
To help there is the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment, an opportunity for parties to seek the advice of a judge regarding the likely outcome of the case, helping them to try and negotiate an agreement. This process happens fairly early on in the financial remedies process, once both parties have provided full and frank financial disclosure of their financial position.
The primary purpose of the FDR is to encourage parties to negotiate a settlement that they are satisfied to be fair, rather than having it imposed upon them by a Judge at a final hearing. It is also designed to limit delays, reducing both the emotional and financial strain imposed upon the individuals. However, in recent times the role of the FDR has become less efficient. The courts are overstretched and under resourced with long delays and the time allocated may not be enough to look in detail at the case. It’s also possible the judge might not have the right expertise. As a result there has been a marked increase in people seeking private FDRs.
The concept of the private FDR is the same as a regular FDR and involves asking an experienced Judge (or barrister, solicitor or retired judge) to give you their view on a settlement to help settle the case.
There are many advantages to the private FDR: you can choose an appropriate Judge for the case, you can also control when the FDR happens and how long it takes. Likewise, the location is normally in a solicitor’s office – a much more discreet and comfortable environment than a public waiting room in the Court!
Obviously the negative is that there is a cost to a private FDR, meaning it will be out of bounds to some – but those who do pursue this option find that by investing in the process they are more motivated to reach a settlement. One could also argue that a private FDR pays for itself – there’s a higher probability of achieving a settlement in a relatively short period of time, which in turn avoids exorbitant legal fees and the chance of the case running to a final hearing.
If you are considering a private FDR but have some questions we can help to guide you confidentially and sensitively. Please feel free to contact us on 01423 566666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in our Family, Children and Divorce team.
Published on 3 June 2021