Solicitors for Private Financial Dispute Resolutions (FDRs)
Resolving disputes when a relationship breaks down can be challenging, and being unable to find a resolution can often mean long drawn-out court proceedings are the only way out. Being able to find a mutually agreeable solution, without going through the courts, can save everyone time, money and emotional pain. In many instances a private FDR can be an excellent way of breaking the deadlock and finding a way forward for everyone involved.
If you are going through a separation, divorce or relationship breakdown and are struggling to resolve a particular issue, speak to one of our legal experts. Our specialist out of court dispute resolution lawyers will be able to advise you as to whether a private FDR would be a solution in your situation, and if so, we can offer you guidance and support throughout the process.
What is a private FDR?
A traditional FDR, or financial dispute resolution, is the court process used to help to resolve outstanding financial issues when a separating couple are unable to reach an agreement. It is a three-stage process designed to reach a workable solution for both parties.
A private FDR is a very similar process, but a private FDR judge is hired (they are usually a senior family lawyer, judge or retired barrister) and a hearing takes place in a convenient, agreed location. The judge will consider all the evidence and the situation of both parties and will work to evaluate the situation with the aim of suggesting an appropriate settlement.
A private FDR, or early neutral evaluation as they are also often referred to as, can be arranged at any stage, even if the standard court process has already begun. It can be a good way to get an early understanding of how a case is likely to go in court from an experienced and impartial judge. This can help both parties to reach a settlement; where this isn’t possible, they can bypass the full court process and go to a final hearing where a judge will make a ruling. Most cases tend to settle at, or after the private FDR and where this is not the case, it tends to at least save some time by shortcutting the standard process.
What are the benefits of a Private FDR?
A private FDR has a number of advantages in comparison to a court-based FDR. One of the main advantages is that they can save a lot of time overall; couples waiting for an FDR in court can face extensive delays due to the sheer volume of cases waiting to be heard in the family court. A private FDR is a way of bypassing a stage of the court process, which as well as being faster can ultimately be more cost effective.
In addition, a private FDR can offer:
- A quick resolution – private FDRs can often be booked at short notice, relatively speaking, and approximately 80% of cases are settled following this process.
- Flexibility - you have some choice in the date, venue and judge when choosing a private FDR which makes it a much more flexible and convenient process in comparison to a court-based FDR.
- A more bespoke service – the judge you choose will be an expert in financial matters and will have the chance to fully acquaint themselves with your situation and documentation. A judge within the regular court process is unlikely to have the same amount of time to dedicate to your case.
- Discretion – the ability to choose the venue gives you more privacy than you would have in court.
- A better outcome – using the private FDR process to reach a mutually agreeable solution is often more satisfactory than having one imposed in court, and both parties are usually more likely to abide by the terms where the agreement is made mutually.
Is a private FDR right for me?
A private FDR can be an excellent option where financial negotiations have reached a stalemate during divorce proceedings, and can offer an alternative to the court process.
It is particularly beneficial:
- When the waiting time to go through the standard court-based process is extensive. This is often the case as the family courts are generally overstretched, and have been further impacted by the pandemic.
- If both parties are motivated to reach an agreement but are struggling to do so – often a neutral third-party can help to clarify issues and bring a different perspective.
- If both parties want to resolve matters in private and avoid media coverage, particularly where either party is high profile and likely to draw speculation.
How does the process work?
Typically, each party will meet with their lawyers before the private FDR begins and will then appear before the judge to present their case, which the lawyers do on behalf of their clients. They will then negotiate throughout the day in order to reach an agreement.
If a resolution is found, an agreement can be drawn up immediately. It can be signed and approved by the court, completely removing the need for anyone to physically attend court at any point. Whilst a private FDR can seem expensive at the outset, the cost is often offset by the extensive savings in both time and money compared to the traditional route. Even on the occasions where a private FDR is unsuccessful in reaching a resolution, time is usually saved in the long run as it is then possible to proceed straight to a final hearing, rather than waiting to go all the way through the court system.
Why choose Clifford Johnston & Co?
At Clifford Johnston and Co, we understand that relationship breakdowns are difficult, and we strive to do everything that we can to make the process as straightforward and uncomplicated as we can. If you are divorcing, dissolving a civil partnership, or struggling to reach an agreement over a financial settlement following a relationship breakdown, a private financial dispute resolution could help to break the deadlock.
If you think that a private FDR could help you, get in touch with one of our family law experts for a consultation with no obligation. We work with private FDR judges and can offer advice and guidance throughout the whole process, from selecting a judge, to completing the paperwork and through the FDR hearing and its conclusion. We will help you to make the right decisions for you and your unique situation, supporting you at every step of the way.
We regularly help local families find a resolution to the their financial disputes through alternative methods to save the stress and costs of court.
Our friendly team will deal with your enquiry sensitively and with understanding, so contact us today for helpful and supportive advice.
Our Financial Dispute Resolution Solicitors are based at both of our offices and their vast experience makes them an integral part of our team of Family Solicitors in Stockport & in Manchester.
With offices in Stockport (Heaton Moor) & Manchester (Burnage), our expert family solicitors are easily accessible. We represent clients not only locally and throughout Stockport, Cheshire, Lancashire & Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. You can count on us to help and guide you whatever your challenge or circumstance.