In a series of blogs about the process of getting a financial remedy through the courts in the context of divorce or dissolution, we take a look at each stage in turn.
Once parties have completed disclosure, and after any questions about that disclosure have been asked, preparations get underway for the FDA. (If there are any questions asked which you do not want to answer, a judge will decide at the FDA whether you have to answer them or not).
Before the FDA, the applicant’s solicitor will prepare a brief summary of the issues which are still not agreed, and a “crib sheet” or chronology to help the judge identify key dates in the matter. Both parties’ solicitors will also file a document with the court which sets out the legal costs which their client has incurred to date.
Sometimes, if both parties agree to it, the FDA can be “converted” into an FDR. This means parties can have constructive negotiations about settlement, however it may not be possible to convert the FDA where further information is needed to help clarify the position for one of the parties or for the court.
The FDA helps parties to see where that further information might be needed and how it can be obtained. It also helps set the timetable for future conduct of the case.
If parties have a solicitor or barrister to represent them, they will not usually need to speak themselves and their representative will help guide them through the process, as this can often be the first time they have been inside a court.
The attendance at court provides another opportunity for the parties with their representatives to explore options for settlement. Between the FDA and the FDR, parties can still negotiate and can always dispense with the FDR if they manage to reach agreement before it. It is still advisable that parties (or their solicitors) continue to prepare as if the FDR were going to go ahead, as not only will this enable parties to comply with court deadlines should negotiations fail, but also helps keep minds concentrated on the issues during negotiations.