The procedure for resolving financial issues that arise when a marriage breaks down has been well tried and tested and will apply whether the issues are being dealt with through mediation, the courts or between solicitors.

Firstly, the parties have to disclose their assets and exchange information.

Secondly, with the help and advice of their solicitor or mediator, the parties discuss possible ways to settle their financial differences between themselves. If a settlement is reached, then a Court Order reflecting the settlement is put to the Court for approval by a Judge.

Thirdly, if a settlement cannot be reached, then Court proceedings will follow.

Court proceedings involve a similar process but on a more formal basis. The parties exchange their financial documents using a statement called a Form E, which is very comprehensive. The parties have the right to ask for clarification and further information. The parties attend Court where a further attempt at settlement is made, but this time with the assistance of the Judge who will express an opinion as to what is the most appropriate settlement. This often helps the parties reach an agreement, but if not, the case will then proceed to a third and final stage where, after hearing evidence from both parties, a Judge will impose a financial settlement.

There is a new method available to resolve financial dispute which does not involve the courts – although can be a daunting experience for some. The parties can arrange through their solicitor for a private financial dispute resolution appointment to be scheduled.

This proceeds in the same way that a Court arranged FDR appointment would take place but it is outside of the Court process. The “Judge” would be a well-qualified senior Barrister who would consider all of the evidence and representations made on behalf of the parties and then provide a learned opinion as to the appropriate financial settlement.

The Court process to reach FDR stage can be lengthy, but it is relatively quick to arrange a private FDR appointment. Also the “Judge” is available at all times and will only deal with your case – unlike a Judge at FDR in the court scenario who has to juggle his concentration across multiple cases.

In the recent case of AS –v- CS, the Court ruled that when the parties arrange a private financial dispute resolution appointment, any ongoing Court proceedings between the couple should be adjourned with a date being fixed for the private appointment to take place and for the date and time to be only altered by a further order of the Court. This is welcome relief for parties who are concerned about the spiralling costs of Court cases and prefer to make their own arrangements to resolve their disputes.

We at Maxwell Hodge Solicitors provide a full range of services for our clients undergoing divorce and any financial disputes arising therefrom. Should any further information be required, please do not hesitate to contact us.