The overriding objective of the Court in financial applications made within divorce is to ensure that the case is dealt with swiftly and justly, at a level of expense that is proportionate to the assets within the case. In cases where there is limited capital and income available it is vital that parties are helped to settle the case as quickly as possible and with the least expense.
One option for couples who have very limited assets is to consider mediation. Both parties are always required to give full and open disclosure of their means. The duty to disclose continues all the way up until an Order is made. Following initial disclosure the parties and their Solicitors have a responsibility to try and negotiate a settlement. If successful that agreement can be incorporated into an Order of the Court to be made within the Divorce proceedings.
If negotiations break down then one or either party can make an Application to the Court for the Court to adjudicate. This will involve significant expense for both parties. Attendances at Court can be stressful, damaging to future communications between the parties and expensive.
Both parties will be compelled to complete Form E documentation; a 26 page booklet relating to their means. Both parties will be required to attend a First Directions Appointment at the Court at which it may be possible to resolve matters. If matters cannot be agreed on that occasion the case will be adjourned to a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR). A large proportion of cases settle at the FDR but costs to that date will still be significant and the Court cannot compel settlement at the FDR – it must be a matter of agreement and acceptance on behalf of both parties. If agreement breaks down at the FDR then the case can be further adjourned to a Final Hearing.
The experience of Court proceedings can be daunting and often the formality of the process and legal language can be unsettling for many. At Gouldingays we will ensure that you are fully prepared and settled about what might follow at the First Directions or FDR Appointment. The same person that has dealt with your matter throughout will also make the representations on your behalf at Court. If the case is particularly complex you may need to instruct a Barrister, although we will deal with the majority of FDR Appointments ourselves and if a Barrister is appointed we will always choose Counsel by reference to your particular needs and requirements and will always ensure you meet with him/her in advance of the Hearing date.
We will always listen to your requirements and endeavour to meet your needs but always by reference to what we believe is realistically achievable within your case. At Gouldingays we pride ourselves on listening to your needs and acting accordingly. In cases where we know we shall be unable to achieve your goals we will always be candid with you. We will keep you fully appraised of your costs commitment throughout the matter and render interim accounts at regular intervals.