Fact Sheet - Divorce and Financial Court Proceedings
Q - I’m getting we might have to go to court to sort out the financial side of things. Is it complicated?
A - Either party can issue proceedings as soon as the Court sends out a divorce petition and even after Decree Absolute, but not once you have remarried; you may then lose your right to all financial claims against your former spouse. A form is sent to court with the £240 fee and they serve notice on your former spouse with a date for the exchange of a detailed financial statement known as a Form E and other documents. It will also list a court hearing, called a First Appointment. You both must complete separate Form E’s setting out all the financial information you know relating to the marriage.
Q – What additional documents do we have to exchange?
A - A chronology of the marriage, a statement of the financial issues we need to resolve for the future and a questionnaire that we want your former spouse to answer, filling in any gaps revealed by their Form E or asking for additional documents to be provided to us.
Q – What happens at the First Appointment?
A – A District Judge will deal with procedural issues, such as deciding if a home should be valued by independent agents if you can’t agree what its worth. The Judge will also decide which questions in the questionnaires should be answered, by when and will list the case for a second hearing called the Financial Dispute Resolution or FDR. In some cases, the First Appointment can be transferred into a FDR. In rare cases a Final Hearing is listed without a FDR.
Q – How is the FDR different to the First Appointment?
A – The FDR is treated as a meeting held for the purposes of discussion and negotiation, chaired by the District Judge. Before the appointment, the solicitors will have handed in the offers and proposals, and responses to them to date. The District Judge will consider these and if able, will provide an opinion on the proposals to help guide the parties. You must use your best endeavours to co-operate with negotiations. That is not the same as saying that you must settle on the day at any cost. If it proves impossible to reach an agreement, the case will be listed for a Final Hearing when a District Judge will decide what will happen in the long term.
Q – What will the Judge consider at the Final Hearing?
A - Everyone's circumstances are different. There is no "right answer" and funding two homes where there was once one might cause financial difficulties for both parties. The Court refers to a checklist when considering what a fair outcome is for both parties. That checklist includes all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare of children. It also includes the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of the parties; the income, earning capacity, property and resources of both parties now and in the future; the standard of living enjoyed by the family during the marriage; the age of the parties and length of the marriage; the contribution each of the parties has made to the marriage and the value of any benefit, such as a pension, which may be lost by one party as a result of the divorce.
Q – What happens if we agree at any stage of the court case?
A – An agreement can at any time be put into writing and sent to the court with a request that the Judge approves the agreement without a hearing. This is known as a consent order and it will bring the case to an end.
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