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The Legal Process of Family Law Explained

Dealing with legal separation & severance

It is rare to find a couple who are comfortable with negotiating a process of separation themselves as it is often common that one or both parties will not wish to disclose sensitive or required information to enable positive discussions to reach an agreeable conclusion.

In these circumstances, the matter inevitably ends up going to Court proceedings and an application for financial remedy will enlist the assistance of the courts to resolve the dispute.

Marriage Certificate. Image credit: Pixabay
Marriage Certificate. Image credit: Pixabay

Stage 1 – Mediation

Before an application to the Court is granted, both parties must attend a family mediation information and assessment meeting, together or separately, to effectively learn more about the disputes they have with each other.

If at this vital stage no financial agreement can be made, then the Court will proceed to get involved and seek an application.

At this point, the process involves an application for the orders sought. Upon receiving the application, the Court will issue an automatic directive, required by both parties to file with the Court and serve on the other party full financial disclosure by completing Form E, along with documentary evidence to support and verify the statements given.

The Court will then set an initial date known as the First Appointment, which is a directions hearing allowing both parties to seek rulings from the opposing party to supply all outstanding information associated with the dispute, and secure all valuations and data that will assist the court and disputing parties to reach a resolution.

Stage 2 – Financial Dispute Resolution

Once full financial disclosure has been set forth, the Court will set out a further Financial Dispute Resolution appointment, also known as an FDR, which is designed to help the judge in place during the hearing to assist the disputing parties as to what the Court would order base don the evidence in front of them. This usually helps to break the deadlock and get both parties talking more rationally towards a settlement.

If however the FDR talks fail, the Court is left with no alternative but to set a future trial date and go to court.

Stage 3 – Trial

During the trial, both parties will present their evidence on matters under dispute, and ultimately it is down to the Judge to make a ruling based on the full findings of the case and set forth his or her views of a fair division of assets and any maintenance required to be paid, one way or the other.

Throughout these types of processes, it is normal to have a Family Law solicitor by each party’s side to assist with the legal framework and offer guidance, input and compassion. but most importantly, to present their client’s case to the Court in an expert and pragmatic fashion, by using their experience and deeply held knowledge of the legal system and similar cases. A fine example of experienced Family law barristers would be Worthingtons Solicitors in Kent.

A firm such as this, would usually have regular exchanges with the judge to gauge how the matter is being considered and to get a clearer indication of how the process may or may not be influencing their final decision in the future.

As you can imagine, a good amicable relationship with the judge in these instances is vital to ensure their clients concerns, arguments and evidence is heard as fully and and fairly as possible, to enable the judge to make a fair and balanced decision on the severance.

This is sometimes a great deal easier said than done, especially in cases where the solicitors is working in parts of the country outside of their usual remit. In these circumstances, experience and rock solid legal knowledge is critical