June 3, 2021

Can a Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing speed up my divorce settlement?

By Jones Myers founder, Peter Jones

The services offered by our niche, award-winning family law firm include arranging Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings (FDR’s) which are taking on an increased importance and formality in financial disputes in family cases.   

What is a private FDR?

A private FDR is a hearing where you and your ex pay for a financial remedy specialist to act as a private FDR Judge. The hearing usually comes after you have both established what your assets are – and what they are worth. 

What does the Judge do?

The expertise of the FDR Judge, who may be a solicitor, barrister or retired judge, helps to accelerate and maximise the prospects of a settlement. The judge suggests which areas of each party’s position they prefer and the range ofdecisions they would arrive at if the case were at the Final Hearing stage.

Having the wisdom and influence of the Judge, who knows the background of the parties’ specific case, can enable ongoing negotiations to bring about a settlement. The Judge does not hear evidence at this hearing, and the parties do not have to give any verbal evidence.

How much does the hearing cost?

The court process FDR requires the attendance of the parties and their legal team. A private FDR has an additional cost of the private judge for the hearing.

The cost will depend on the complexity of the case and the experience and time of the private Judge.  The cost (shared between the parties) can range from £1,500 to £7,500. The extra value is that the judge will have sufficient time to read thoroughly all the papers and hear from the legal representatives before they give a detailed view. 

Does an FDR save on divorce costs?

Yes, as the hearing is much quicker and more detailed. Successful FDRs see the Judge advising both of you as to how the case might be concluded and encouraging settlement to avoid the substantial costs and trauma of a full hearing.   

If you both do not agree a private alternative, you would go though the official court route where you would be allocated a Judge, who may not have a background in Family Law.

The Judge allocated is also dealing with 5-7 cases in one day and has limited time to get to grips with their complexities. Added to this are ongoing delays in cases getting to court along with cases over-running and/or not starting on time.

What are the benefits of FDRs?

They provide a dynamic formal structure which focuses you on finding a way forward. Far from being a forensic examination of monetary matters, the hearing draws on the responsibilities, liabilities, and requirements of all parties to devise a settlement which will work going forward.

The hearing replaces forceful litigation and the search for a solution takes in wider issues other than solely financial. If an agreement is reached, the advocates involved will, if possible, look to finalise a draft order on the day and ask the Judge to approve it. This saves on the cost of progressing matters to a final hearing. 

What if we don’t reach a solution?

If, at the end of the hearing, you both still disagree over certain areas, additional instructions can be made and incorporated into a court order showing what further evidence is needed before the Judge can make a final decision.

Are FDR’s only relevant for complex cases?

Increasingly recognised and welcomed by the Courts, they are relevant for most cases and frequently involve complex cases. The service is only offered by Jones Myers and a limited number of family law firms who recognise the speed and quality of seeking out a settlement with which both parties and accept.

For advice on FDRs, financial settlement or any aspect of family law, call us at Leeds on 0113 246 0055, Harrogate on 01423 276104, or York on 01904 202550. Visit jm2023.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet @helpwithdivorce