What to expect at court if you cannot agree on finances?
When it comes to resolving the various issues that arise as part of your divorce or separation, disagreements on financial matters are – more often than not – at that the top of that issues list. In a lot of cases this can lead to lengthy and costly court battles. Here we will explore what to expect at court if you cannot agree on finances during a divorce and why pursuing Family Mediation may be in your best interest.
At Mediate UK, we like our clients to have all the tools they need to make well-informed decisions. We feel strongly about sharing helpful information, so before we delve into the advantages of family mediation, let’s first explore a bit about the court process.
Understanding the Divorce Court Process
When couples are unable to reach an agreement on financial matters during a divorce, they may apply to the court and ask the court to make a legally binding decision for them. Here’s what you can generally expect during the court process:
Filing an application
Either party can initiate the court process by filing an application requesting a financial order. This application outlines the disputed financial issues and provides relevant information. You will usually need to have at least considered family mediation by way of a MIAM to complete this form. Take a look at our questionnaire here to see if you need to do this for your situation.
Both parties are required to provide a full and frank financial disclosure. This includes disclosing assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Failure to disclose information can result in penalties being imposed by the court.
First Appointment (FDA)
The court schedules a First Directions Appointment (FDA), during which the judge reviews the case, identifies the issues, and provides directions for gathering further evidence or expert opinions if necessary. The FDA aims to encourage both parties to reach an agreement. The judge can refer the couple back to family mediation if they deem it is suitable.
Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)
If an agreement is not reached after the FDA, the court will schedule an FDR. During this hearing, a judge provides a non-binding evaluation of the case – encouraging, once again. the parties to settle. This evaluation can be helpful in reaching a resolution. The judge may give an indication of what outcome they could expect. Or again, refer them back to family mediation on any points they believe could be agreed between the couple.
If no agreement is reached during or after the FDR, the case proceeds to a final hearing, where a judge makes a legally binding decision based on the evidence presented. This stage can be stressful, time-consuming and very expensive. Witnesses and experts can be called to give evidence. You will usually end up with a final order at this stage that is legally binding on you both.
Why Choose Family Mediation?
There are 11 different methods to help you reach an agreement on finances or parenting as part of a divorce or separation. One of those is family mediation.
Not only do the courts endorse family mediation as their preferred method of dispute resolution, but in recent discussions, the Government is considering making family mediation compulsory – in all but the most serious of cases.
If that in itself doesn’t demonstrate the value associated with this process, then let’s look at some of the key reasons why it is a route worth considering instead of going to court.
1. Confidential and Voluntary
Family mediation is a voluntary process that occurs in a confidential and neutral environment. It allows both parties to express their concerns openly without fear of judgment or legal repercussions.
Compared to court proceedings, family mediation is far more affordable. The mediation costs are usually shared between both parties and the process tends to be faster, saving you time, money and stress.
3. You have a say in the outcome
In family mediation, you and your spouse have the opportunity to discuss and negotiate directly. This allows you to have more control over the outcome and find solutions that work best for your unique circumstances.
4. Preserve Relationships
Divorce can strain relationships, particularly when court escalates conflicts. Family mediation focuses on fostering constructive communication, which can lead to more amicable post-divorce relationships, especially important when children are involved and you will have an ongoing parenting relationship for many years.
5. Flexibility and Customisation
Mediation offers flexible solutions tailored to your specific needs and priorities. This allows for creative and customised settlements that may not be available in a courtroom.
6. Faster Resolution
The court process can take months or even years, whereas family mediation is typically far quicker. Family mediation timelines depend on the complexity of the issues and the willingness of both parties to cooperate.
While the court process is sometimes necessary, pursuing family mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method during a divorce is often in your best interest.
By choosing family mediation, you can gain more control over the outcome, reduce costs, preserve relationships, and achieve a faster resolution.
Family mediation empowers you and your ex-spouse to find mutually acceptable solutions, ensuring a more amicable transition to the next chapter of your lives. Why not let Mediate UK help you Find your Future.