FDR - how much does an fdr hearing cost

Unlike the First Appointment hearing and the Final Hearing, the FDR hearing takes place on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. This means that any offers made by either you or your spouse to settle the financial matters cannot be discussed at a final hearing.

What is the purpose of the FDR?

The purpose is to encourage both parties to put forward their best compromise position which increases the likelihood of being able to reach an agreement and bring the court process to an end. The focus is on narrowing the issues and engaging in productive negotiations, rather than on pursuing every point of dispute, which would otherwise create tension. The court expects both parties to make offers for settlement and consider proposals, however if there are still several factual issues which are not agreed this can hinder the progress of negotiations, so every attempt needs to be made to resolve any outstanding issues before the FDR takes place.

How do hearings take place?

Whilst hearings were held remotely during the pandemic, the majority of hearings are now taking place in person. It is common practice to be ready around an hour before your hearing commences to allow time for negotiations between you and your spouse beforehand if possible.

If you are represented by a solicitor or barrister, your representatives will engage in the negotiations on your behalf, upon taking instructions. Whilst the court will most likely have listed the hearing for an hour, negotiations can take considerable time so it is sensible to arrange to be free for the whole day. The FDR is a good opportunity to achieve the Judge’s approval of a consent order straightaway if an agreement can be reached, bringing the process to an end.

For some do’s and don’ts on how to present yourself and prepare for a virtual hearing, please see our article here.

How will the Judge deal with the FDR?

Judges can take different approaches to how the FDR can take place. The main role of the Judge is to be there to help assist you and your spouse reach a settlement and can give you an indication as to what a Judge might do if they were hearing the case at a Final Hearing based on the information provided. A Judge’s indication can be general or specific but you should consider carefully what the Judge has to say. Due to the without prejudice protection given to you and your spouse at this hearing, the Judge dealing with the FDR is unable to have any further involvement with your case should you not reach a settlement as you may choose to put forward less generous proposals at a final hearing.

What if we don’t come to an agreement?

Negotiations can still take place after the FDR, but if no agreement can be reached at the hearing, the Judge will order the next steps needed to take place in the lead up to a Final Hearing.

Legal costs will increase significantly after the FDR if matters proceed to a fully contested final hearing, so it is always worth trying hard to reach a compromise at the FDR to allow both parties to move forward.