Financial remedy orders are orders relating to money, property or pensions that can be made by a court on divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, judicial separation or nullity. Download our full guide here or read on:
If you are going through a separation with your civil partner, husband or wife, you will need to consider your financial standings with them after the split. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may need to resolve this through a financial remedy order.
What is a financial remedy order?
A financial remedy or ancillary relief order is a method of letting the courts decide the best way to resolve issues surrounding you and your partner’s money, property or pensions. It aims to maintain a healthy relationship for you and your partner while establishing a financial situation that can benefit both parties where necessary.
How do I get a financial remedy order?
To reach a financial remedy order multiple steps are required. Both parties need to move towards a mutually agreeable outcome. Financial proceedings can be stressful, but understanding the process will help. The steps are as follows:
Before going to court, both parties can look to reach a financial settlement and apply for an ancillary relief order by consent. This situation is known as a consent order and in the event this scenario occurs, the consent order will be drawn up by your lawyer and submitted to the court for the judge’s approval. The fee for a consent order application is £53. Once sealed by the court, the order becomes legally binding upon you and your spouse.
If both parties cannot come to an agreement, applicants must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to see if the issues can be resolved outside of court, via mediation or arbitration. The mediation aims to pursue a consent order, as touched on earlier.
Form A and Form E
If a consent order cannot be reached, either party can apply to the court on a form called Form A. The application costs £275.00. The court will process the application and set out specific dates for further information to be provided. It will also provide a time for the first hearing, known as the First Appointment. The First Appointment cannot be arranged until 12 weeks have passed since the date of the application. This period is important as various documents have to be prepared within that time, including the financial statement known as a Form E. This form gives a detailed view of both parties’ current incomes and assets; this allows the courts to access what can be reasonably negotiated.
In every case, everything deemed necessary by the court should be fully disclosed at all stages of the proceedings. The Form E must be completed no less than 35 days before the First Appointment and updated at regular intervals thereafter.
The court also requires a chronology of the marriage or civil partnership. This means a statement will be created that raises all issues relevant to the court, an estimate of the costs incurred so far and, in appropriate cases, a request for any further disclosure, by no later than 14 days before the First Appointment. The First Appointment will outline the issues that are being disputed and attempt to save costs for both parties. Directions are given on how to proceed and the court will decide if any further information is needed. Further information could include any items that are missing from the presented Form E.
The hearing is usually conducted by a District Judge. It is important to note that although there is time for negotiations to be had outside of the courtroom, no legal argument will be heard by the judge at this hearing and no final decisions will be made.
What happens after the First Appointment?
If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR). The FDR will guide the parties and disclose the predicted outcome a judge would order if the case were to proceed further to a Final Hearing. Therefore the goal is to reduce a potentially lengthy and costly Final Hearing.
The FDR allows for further discussion and negotiation between both parties. You cannot miss your FDR unless the court orders otherwise. Missing your FDR without valid reasoning can reflect poorly on you if you reach a Final Hearing.
The judge will give a detailed overview of the specific issues involved in the case. They will cover what is likely to happen on major issues such as:
- Housing needs of the parties and any children
- Whether the matrimonial home should be sold
- Whether a clean break is appropriate or if there should be a maintenance order
- Whether there should be a pension sharing order.
The judge hearing the FDR will have no further involvement in the case, meaning both parties can decide if they want to continue. All the discussions had in court are confidential and no party will be bound by the judge’s opinion.
What is a Final Hearing within financial remedy proceedings?
If the FDR has finished and there hasn’t been an agreement formed, the court will prepare for a Final Hearing. A Final Hearing date and a timetable for filing further evidence will be arranged. Further evidence can include updating valuations/disclosure from each party and a statement setting out the relevant factors in the case (referred to above as Section 25/Schedule 5 factors). A proposal must be filed by the applicant at least 14 days before the hearing stating how they believe the case should be settled. The Respondent has the opportunity to reply to that proposal no later than 7 days before the Final Hearing.
During the Final Hearing, the parties may be required to give evidence on oath (in the witness box) and may be cross-examined by the other party’s lawyer. Generally speaking, the parties’ cases are presented by barristers who make representations on their behalf. As for costs, the general rule is that each party is responsible for its own legal costs during the proceedings.
How long does the Final Hearing last?
Usually, the court will provide two days for both parties to make their case. However, sometimes for more complex cases, this allocated time might not be enough, in which case it will be extended. After considering all of the evidence and legal argument, the judge will decide how to divide the assets.
Is the Final Hearing legally binding?
The Final Hearing is legally binding, meaning the details of the financial remedy order must be followed. The decision can be appealed in exceptional circumstances. An example where the ruling may be changed is if of the parties is charged with a criminal offence.
Have we answered all your questions on the Financial Remedy Order and Financial Proceedings? If not, contact our team of family solicitors for expert legal advice. We have family lawyers in Hove, Hassocks, Brighton and Farnham all ready to help you so get in touch today.
Read our other guides on divorce and separation: