Financial Remedy Proceedings
Here at Paradigm Family Law we thought it might be useful for our readers to have a concise timetable setting out the way Financial Remedy Proceedings are dealt with in cases where parties have not managed to resolve their financial claims out of court.
There are three main phases to financial remedy proceedings:
- Phase 1 – from issue of the proceedings to the end of the First Appointment (FA)
- Phase 2 – from the First Appointment to the end of the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR)
- Phase 3 – up to and including the Final Hearing (FH)
We will take each Phase in turn and set out the activities and timetable for each.
Phase 1 – to the end of the First Appointment
Either party can make an application for financial remedy provided there are proceedings ongoing for divorce or civil partnership dissolution. The party applying must complete a FORM A (financial remedy) or FORM A1 or alternatives, when applying for other financial remedies.
Within the FORM A the applicant must set out details of what it is they are seeking, including where there are properties details of the mortgagee(s).
They must also provide confirmation that they have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or provide details of any exemption they are seeking to this requirement. If they fail to do so, the court is unlikely to issue the proceedings.
Once issued, the court will then set the date for the First Appointment. This must be 12 – 16 weeks from the date of issue.
Next, the parties must both file their respective Financial Statements (FORM E) at least 35 days before the First Appointment.
Then, at least 14 days before the FA, the following documents must be filed by the parties:
- Schedule of Issues
- Questionnaire (arising from the information in the other party’s Form E)
- FORM G – confirmation as to whether the matter is suitable to be heard as an FDR at the FA hearing, or not.
The remaining document for filing at the FA is the Costs Estimate (FORM H). This can be filed at court on the day of the FA. But if a party is seeking a costs order from their opponent, then they must file and serve a Costs Schedule at least 24 hours before the FA hearing.
The First Appointment
At the FA, directions are given as to how the case is to proceed which usually include such things as expert and or valuation evidence – by single joint expert if appropriate. The court gives directions for the replies to any questions raised and will give other directions as are relevant to the issues in hand.
The court will then list the matter for a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, unless there is the need for a further directions hearing, any interim application to be determined, or can also send the parties to some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation or arbitration. Alternatively, the court may jump straight to a Final Hearing if appropriate.
Phase 2 – to the end of the Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing
After the FA, the parties must comply with the directions as ordered. However, in any event they must also file details of all offers, proposals and response including without prejudice offers at least 7 days before the FDR.
A cost estimate (FORM H) must also be provided again at the FDR, and cost schedule if appropriate 24 hours in advance as before.
The Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing
The ground rules for the hearing are well established. It is a ‘meeting for the purposes of discussion and negotiation’ – Rose v Rose  1 FLR 978. The parties are expected to be open minded in their approach, and to make offers and consider sensibly any responses. The entire hearing is conducted off the record and is ‘without prejudice‘. As such any papers filed including offers and counter offers are removed from the court file if the case does not settle. Furthermore, the Judge hearing the FDR is not permitted to preside over the final hearing in due course.
If no settlement is achieved at FDR, the court will list the matter for a Final Hearing and give whatever further directions may be appropriate to ready the case for the final hearing.
Phase 3 – to the end of the Final Hearing
The parties must again comply with any outstanding directions.
Then, not less than 14 days before the FA, the Applicant must file a statement setting out their open proposals. The Respondent must then reply and file their open proposals 7 days thereafter.
A full Schedule of Costs on FORM H1 must then also be filed, not less than 14 days before the Final Hearing.
Here, the parties submit themselves to the mercy of the presiding Judge. The Judge will hear evidence from both parties who will face questions and cross examination in the witness box. Any experts whose evidence is challenged are also likely to face cross examination, before the respective parties’ advocates make closing submissions and the Judge makes their findings and decision and ultimately the final order.
And there you have it – the entire financial remedy proceedings from start to finish in a nutshell. There are many reasons why some cases take longer than others, but the framework and deadlines outlined above are the ones to make a note of and follow. Failure to do so can lead to costs penalties against the party at fault, and will certainly do little to enamour them to the Judge at any hearing along the way.
For more details or if you would like representation in financial or divorce proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email us to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter and LinkedIn for the latest news and views on family law.