Financial dispute resolution 1

An FDR is a hearing to encourage the parties to reach a settlement.

The idea is that both parties put their best points to a judge.  If the judge feels able to do so, the judge considers the facts and says something like this:

"I’m not here to decide your case today, but if I was I think this is what I’d do, and this is why.  I think the Wife needs to stay in the home with the children at the moment, but that the Husband should have a share of the property.  If you don’t agree with my views then it is your right to go to a final hearing and another judge, not me, will decide the case for you.  It is right however, that I warn you that going to another hearing will mean a delay and will also cost you more in legal fees.  If you go to a final hearing you lose the ability to predict what will happen.  If you come to an agreement today however, you can take away that uncertainty.  The art of a good agreement is often finding a situation both parties can live with.  Perhaps both of you will leave court disgruntled, but with a situation you can bear."

In theory the parties should then leave court and negotiate with the judge’s words “ringing in their ears”.

Very often the judge’s indication will be the first time the parties have heard the views of someone independent.

An advantage of an FDR appointment is that everything which is said there is without prejudice (except for the orders made).  Therefore the parties and the judge can speak openly in the knowledge that no one is allowed to repeat what was said at a future hearing. 

Whether the parties take into account what the judge says will depend upon:

  • Whether what the judge said accorded with their views; and,
  • Whether the parties view the judge as authoritative.