When an application to commence financial remedy proceedings is made, the Court will set several deadlines leading up to a First Directions Appointment (“FDA”) hearing – the first financial remedy hearing. The purpose of the FDA hearing is to ensure you and your spouse have all the information you each need to consider settlement options and, if you do not, to order you to obtain that evidence. The directions made at this hearing are vital to settlement discussions.

What is considered at an FDA Hearing?

Prior to an FDA, you and your solicitors will have considered what financial information is missing and required so they can best advise on possible settlement options. This is only possible by knowing what is in the “matrimonial pot” for sharing i.e. the accurate value of all capital and pensions, and your respective incomes.

These issues can be resolved by obtaining evidence on the value of any property interests, other assets and pensions. Where pensions are relevant, given their complexity, an expert may need to be appointed to report on pension sharing options.

Is an FDA hearing always necessary?

No! In some cases you may find that all the information you need has already been disclosed. Often, whilst there may be disagreements or missing evidence, you and your spouse could agree what action should be taken to get the outstanding information. For example, if there is a dispute about the value of the former family home, you could agree to the joint instruction of a RICS chartered surveyor to report on the value.

If you can agree these next steps, your solicitor can draw up an order to send to the Judge to approve in your absence, avoiding the cost and time of attending the hearing.

If you cannot agree directions, then the FDA hearing will need to proceed.

What happens at an FDA?

If a hearing is required, they are now often heard remotely, whether that is by MS Teams, Cloud Video Platform (the Court’s own conferencing software), or telephone. The hearing will not be long, perhaps 30 – 45 minutes at most.

The Judge will hear from you and your spouse’s legal representative who will explain what directions are being sought and why they are (or are not) required. There may be several reasons why a direction is objected to, often on the grounds of proportionality and/or cost. After these arguments are put forward, the Judge will give a ruling which is binding on you and your spouse; an order will be prepared reflecting those terms.

What happens after the FDA hearing?

You and your spouse will need to ensure you comply with the terms and deadlines set out in the FDA order. Breach of the order could result in you being held in contempt of court, which is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

Following the FDA, the Court will list a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing (“the negotiation hearing”) several months after the FDA. You can read more about what happens at the FDR in the second of our articles in this series.

Remember, it is important you take legal advice early on when considering the directions that may be required. The FDA sets up your case so that it can proceed smoothly as the proceedings continue. An omission or delay at this stage could have serious consequences later.


If you have any further queries regarding FDA Hearing, please contact our Family Team.