What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3

after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

This week I’m explaining the difference between a First Appointment and a FDR Appointment after Financial Disclosure in Divorce. Why is this important? Because if you understand the difference you can “speed up” the Court timetable and reach an early conclusion. I’ll explain it as clearly as possible but if you’re at all unsure what to do, please get advice from an expert family lawyer.

The Court timetable

Here’s a reminder of the Court timetable. In last week’s blog – What happens after financial disclosure in divorce – part 2 – I dealt with the first three documents but not the fourth.

“Not less than 14 days before the First Appointment you must file with the Court and serve on each other:

  1. concise statement of the issues
  2. chronology
  3. questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
  4. notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment”

So what is document number 4 all about?

Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR Appointment

Once you understand what this Notice is getting at, it’s really easy to complete. But first you need to know what’s likely to happen at the First Appointment. And you need to understand the importance of the FDR Appointment (“FDR” stands for Financial Dispute Resolution).

First Appointment

What’s the First Appointment all about? I’ll give you some pointers. But it’s important to remember that if your case involves valuable property, a business or pensions, and/or your ex is uncooperative, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert family lawyer.

Before the hearing

  1. You’ll have exchanged your documents with your ex and both of you will have filed them in the Court.
  2. Don’t forget to fill in Form H with details of your costs.

At the hearing

  1. Hand you Form H to your ex and to the Court.
  2. Ask the Court to order expert evidence, often vital for pensions and businesses. Also helpful if eg
    • you can’t agree the valuation of the family home
    • your ex is saying they can’t earn an income because of poor health and you don’t agree
  3. You will also ask the Court to order your ex to answer the questions you have raised in your questionnaire.

Matrimonial finances in the “fast lane”

But it’s possible to ask the Court for a FDR Appointment instead of a First Appointment. How? You fill in the “Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment” sent to you by the Court. This means you will “leapfrog” to the next hearing and so speed up the Court process.

What’s the FDR Appointment

At the FDR the Court will:

  • encourage you to come to an agreement and
  • the Court will give you an indication of what it thinks a fair outcome would be.

This can be a real wake up call for some.

When to bypass the First Appointment and aim straight for the FDR

  1. You’re happy with your ex’s financial disclosure, and you
  2. Don’t need expert evidence, but
  3. Can’t agree a financial settlement.

What happens if you can’t agree a settlement at the FDR

This is the subject of my next blog.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3 are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3 Mavericks by Shalom Jacobovitz Wikimedia Commons This image has been digitally manipulated

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Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

1. Can I do the divorce/end our civil partnership myself

Yes, here’s a guide to how to file for divorce in the UKIt also tells you about the challenges you might faceIf in doubt, consult an expert family lawyer.

2. How much will it cost

The Court fee is £550 but:

  • are you eligible for an exemption? Here’s a link to an application form, or
  • will your ex pay? You can ask the Court to make an order although it’s not guaranteed the Court will agree so try to reach agreement with your ex.

3. How long will it take

About four months ruling out mishaps with the paperwork. But it’s wise to delay completing your divorce until you have a financial order. Why? Because you might miss out on your fair share; eg if your ex dies after the divorce but before you have a financial order you could lose out on their pension. Not sure? Consult an expert family solicitor.

4. How are the finances split 

Equally – subject to the following factors:

  • welfare of children
  • income and earning capacity –  a “clean break” means a payment of capital instead of ongoing maintenance
  • financial needs – eg the care of children
  • standard of living during the marriage – in rare cases where there is an excess of capital and income this is an argument for a greater share
  • your ages, and the length of the marriage – different considerations apply if it’s a short marriage
  • disabilities – ongoing maintenance or extra capital may be the answer
  • contributions to marriage – high achievers can attempt to ring fence their “stellar contribution

Try to agree the finances with your ex – see my recent blog How to avoid Court for your options:

5. Do I have to disclose my finances

Yes. Hiding assets or income drags things out and can result in an expensive and never ending court case. You will disclose your assets and income in a Form E Financial Statement, and/or a Statement of Information for Consent Order (if your agreed settlement is protected in a consent order)

If you don’t make full disclosure you risk:

  • adverse inferences being drawn as to the extent of your assets
  • extra costs
  • imprisonment for contempt of Court

Think you’ve got away with it? The Court can overturn financial orders when non disclosure or fraudulent disclosure comes to light. Transferring assets to someone else? You risk a Court order freezing your assets and a hefty costs order. Hiding assets? You risk imprisonment for contempt of Court.

6. Can I ring fence my assets 

Yes, sometimes, but you must still give full and frank disclosure first. What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets on divorce? A prenuptial agreement.

If you’re already married, a post nuptial agreement. 

7. What’s a non matrimonial asset

Take advice because it depends on all the circumstances:

  • the house you owned before the marriage
  • the pension you paid since you started work
  • the inheritance that post dated separation
  • your business

But if there aren’t enough matrimonial assets left to fulfil your ex’s needs eg for housing, non matrimonial assets can be used to plug the gap.

8. Is it possible to ring fence and protect an earlier inheritance

Possibly if you never allowed it to be used as a matrimonial asset.

9. Can a business be ring fenced

Your ex might make a claim over your business but won’t automatically be entitled to a share of the business on divorce, and if they are, they could instead receive a larger share of other assets such as savings or the family home. Take advice, this is a tricky one.

Joint business? The options are:

  • split it between you
  • buy each other out
  • sell it

Here again a you might want to consider a post nuptial agreement.

10. My husband/wife/civil partner has left me what are my rights

Worried your ex will:

  • sell your home because it’s not in joint names
  • sell, hide or move valuable assets

The answers are:

  • an application to the Land Registry to register a Notice of Home Rights – anyone who is not a joint owner should register their home rights when a marriage breaks down
  • an urgent application to the Court to freeze assets

You need maintenance:

  • on an emergency basis
  • to support the children

The answers are:

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered – Facial portrait of sad expression by a female actress by xusenru on Wikimedia

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