If the separating spouses cannot agree a financial settlement of the marriage, then either spouse is able to make an application to the court to resolve matters – if alternatives to court do not work. The court would schedule a First appointment hearing within 12 to 16 weeks of a financial remedy application being received. There would then, if necessary be a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing. At the FDR hearing, the court’s role is to consider offer settlements put forward by both parties written settlement offers and the financial assets and to make a recommendation to the parties with regard to the likely order that wold be made if the case went on to a final hearing. The aim of the FDR – with the judge’s help – is to encourage a negotiated settlement. If a settlement is not reached then the court will schedule a final hearing at which it will consider and hear the written and oral evidence and impose an order
Some cases settle before or at the First Appointment hearing stage, with most settling at or after the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.
It is worth keeping in mind that a court timetable does not necessarily mean that the case will go to a final hearing. A court timetable will help avoid slippage.
If the spouses agree a financial settlement and would like the court to make a financial consent order, then the court has the power to make an order at any time after the decree nisi is made. Decree nisi is the first decree of divorce. Decree absolute is the final decree of divorce which dissolves the marriage.