How the Litigation Process of Separation Works

The Family Law courts explained

These days, finding a couple who are happy to negotiate the separation process between themselves is a rarity. More often than not, both parties will try to withhold a sizeable portion of sensitive information that would enable discussions to reach an agreeable severance, in fear of losing too much financial security.

When this happens, both parties tend to seek assistance from the legal system and court proceedings inevitably ensue. When this happens, the assistance of the courts is sought via an application to resolve the dispute for financial remedy.

What most parties do not realise however, is under the framework of the the law, they are both required to attend a family mediation information and assessment meeting before an application to the Court is granted. This stage is purely designed for two reasons – firstly to effectively learn more about the disputes they have with each other and secondly, to try to get them to resolve their differences before it goes to court and becomes and emotionally and financially draining experience.

If however no agreement is reached, the Court is left with no choice other than to get involved and seek a legal application.

Judges Hammer. Image credit: PIxabay

Judges Hammer. Image credit: Pixabay

On receiving the application, the Court issues an automatic directive, that requires both parties to file and serve to the other party, full financial disclosure. This is done by completing what is called “Form E”, which must be submitted along with documented evidence to support any statements given.

Once processed, the court then sets a date known as the First Appointment. This initial hearing allows both parties to seek rulings from the opposite party – ensuring they supply all outstanding information associated with the dispute, and secure all valuations and important information that will help the court to reach a suitable judgement.

Once full financial disclosure has been established, the Court will then set an FDR date – a Financial Dispute Resolution appointment designed to help the judge in court at the time, assist the disputing couple to understand what the Court is most likely to order based on the evidence presented.

As with most divorce and separation cases, this tends to get people talking once more and breaks the silence in proceedings, ultimately in the hope that a suitable settlement may be reached before a full trial ensues.

If the talks fail however, the court may rule that the dispute is ongoing and they are left with no choice other than to set a future trial date in court.

Once the trial commences, both parties are given the opportunity to present their arguments and supporting evidence to the judge. It is then down to the judge in place to make a ruling based on the findings at hand and points of view presented, and outline their views on how any assets should be divided and any maintenance requirement, by either party.

Trials like this are rarely ever fought by the individuals in the case alone and are handled by a fully qualified Family Law solicitor who will take the reins and guide their client to the best possible outcome. They have a tough job because cases such as this involve a great deal of stress, emotion and pressure for their client. So at times, the Family Law practitioner has to be compassionate, understanding and highly experienced.

It’s their job to present their client’s point of view to the judge in a professional and sensible way, and use their vast experience to try to influence them into a judgement that suits their clients needs.

A lawyer with little experience is less likely to have a successful resolution and therefore, in cases where the dispute has been ongoing for a considerable length of time and involves a large amount of assets and dependents, the Family Law solicitor needs to have a strong head on their shoulders. The perfect example of an experienced Family law solicitor in such cases is Worthingtons Solicitors Kent.

A practice like this would usually insist on regular conversations with the judge to gauge their thinking and to get a better indication of how the evidence presented may be influencing their final decision when getting closer to the end of the trial date.

As with any profession, having a great relationship with the judge is critical to ensuring their clients anxieties, points of view and evidence is fully considered. Only this will enable the judge to make a balanced judgement at the case’s conclusion.