Harold G Walker

Harold G Walker Solicitors

Your Friend-In-Law for over 77 years

A re-assuring guide.

 

 

Rob Price, Family Law Solicitor, Non-Court Dispute ResolutionAn application to the court for matrimonial financial relief.

This journey should always be the last resort because we, and indeed the court, are always keen to afford you the least conflict as possible.

The court would much rather we, as solicitors, took the lead to help you reach a matrimonial financial remedy that satisfies your needs in accordance with overall fairness and that is always our default position.

It saves you time, cost, and undue delay, which of course leads to stress.

Whist it is always ideal to negotiate financial relief between you out of court and receive the benefit of an agreed enforceable court order at the end, without having to step foot in court at all, you might consider that negotiations have failed. At this stage, we will discuss your concern and professionally advise you of the next steps.

Therefore, you may need the assurance of an endpoint, by applying to the court for a fixed court timetable so that your case can be managed by the court.

One very important point to make is that throughout this court process, negotiation to reach an agreed settlement is not only available but is positively encouraged by the court. Indeed, if your spouse is being difficult, say, failing to engage or negotiate with you, the court won’t be at all happy with them.

Although you may think that you are still getting nowhere near a resolution, the court has the power to penalise your spouse for this failure to engage, by awarding you wasted costs, and/or to adjourn the court case so that non-court dispute resolution is activated.

Of course, such action by the court would be taken only on the proviso that it is in your interests for them to exercise this power, to try to keep your legal costs in proportionate with the issues and provided that this alternative route will also be likely to save time and get the resolution that you need quicker and in your best interests.

The courts are facing government cutbacks themselves at the moment and this is one very safe way to avoid the potential of significant delay. It is reassuring that the courts have your interests firmly in mind in circumstances like these and to redirect your case back to us to help you resolve the issues constructively and in a timely manner.

 

Non court dispute resolution.

It follows, that before we file a financial application, mediation, or other forms of collaboration in negotiation are considered. You’re required to attempt it. If you’re nervous about this, don’t worry. It is for the mediator and us to determine whether it’s going to work that way or not, depending on the circumstances. If not, it’s back to us and off we go with a court application. Continuing to negotiate for you in the background from the outset all the way.

 

Exchanging financial details between you.

Before that negotiation is possible, we exchange full financial disclosure with your spouse or preferably their lawyer on a voluntary basis (non-court).

OR

Whilst we encourage you to do this before applying to the court, if you do decide to apply, you get a fixed court timetable to rely on which gives you certainty, so bear that in mind.

 

Court application.

The application goes to the Court either with your divorce application or afterwards. Then comes the timetable back from them. We then know what dates to expect to do the following for you:

  • Court date to file and exchange your financial documents.
  • Court date to prepare legal documents to identify the issues, questions, key events to date.
  • Court date to take you to the first court appointment (there are, potentially, three main ones throughout the process).

 

 

Range of different court appointments available.

Many occasions have allowed us the opportunity to leap straight to the second court appointment where we are satisfied that all the information needed is covered, rather than just a ‘standard directions hearing’, working out what other matters are required as evidence before we go further.

In more straightforward cases, where the issues are evidenced and identified, we can usually bypass the first appointment and go straight to the next stage.

This method saves you valuable time and costs. We can then get an indication from the court at an early stage, to offer an opinion on where we are heading and what sort of decision the court is likely to make.  We may even get a legally binding agreement between you there and then if it is in your interests to do so, where a final resolution is ordered by the court with your respective consent having managed to reach an agreement at the court itself.

If not, another timetable is set either for a second hearing or for the third and final hearing (the latter with a different judge to maintain impartiality). If the final hearing happens, there is still an opportunity to settle if possible. So, we are negotiating for you right to the end.

Remember, the Court is there to help you to reach a negotiated settlement, but importantly they are also there to oversee it, and make the appropriate final orders so that you can move on. At any stage of the process.

It’s a step-by-step process, so do not feel overwhelmed.

 

Do contact the family team, because it is our job to walk you through this process, to help save you time, disproportionate expense and stress that you really do not need,  and to reach a solution that you really do need, to move on with your life.  

 

By Rob Price– Associate, Family Law Solicitor