Financial Remedies Court now “an established and permanent part of the Family Court”
When your marriage or civil partnership breaks down and you separate or divorce, there will be financial issues that need to be sorted out. Joint finances inevitably become more intertwined the longer you are together as a couple, and untangling them into a solution that works for both of you can be difficult.
The need to sort out finances becomes more acute if you have children together. Often, only part of financial support for your children is covered by the Child Maintenance Service. This is where the Financial Remedies Court (FRC) comes into play.
“The purpose of the FRC is to ensure that family finances are resolved efficiently by specialist judges.”
This is a really important point: your financial remedies hearing will be heard by a specialist judge within the Family Court. So they will have expertise in both key areas: family and finances. They will also be local to you, part of 18 new zones in England and Wales, each with their own list of specialist judges.
FRCs are here to stay
The Family Remedies Courts have previously been running as a pilot scheme, but have proved so successful that they are now an official part of the system. First introduced back in November 2019, these Courts are designed to speed up the resolution of financial disputes and make it easier for the judge to ‘cut to the chase’ on the day on the hearing.
So, for example, there are limits on the number of pages family lawyers can submit for various required documents, including questionnaires and position statements. These documents can be filed electronically, so it’s faster and more eco-friendly than printing out reams of paperwork and sending via courier.
That sense of ‘getting things done’ extends into the hearing itself, according to the Law Gazette:
“Where one or both parties have legal representation, it will be the norm for FRC judges to expect orders to be agreed before the parties leave the court building. In any event, orders should be drafted and lodged there or then or, if that is not practical, within two working days of the hearing.”
Mediation not Court
The specialist FRC judges will also
“Be mindful of opportunities for the parties to reach a settlement by whatever means as suited (including) … arbitration, mediation, private FDRs.”
Mediation gives you the opportunity to come to an agreement outside of court with your ex, saving time, money and stress. Director Anne Leiper is a trained mediator, and has experience both in face to face and the new style of online hybrid mediation.
Remote FRC hearings
At the present time, most FRC hearings are happening remotely via video conferencing. This type of hearing very much plays to the strengths of the paperless model of submissions, and often results in agreements being reached more quickly. Remote hearings are also COVID-secure, as you don’t need to attend a courtroom in person, and they do require a slightly different mindset. LGFL have considerable experience in remote hearings since lockdown started back in March 2020, and understand how to make the best of them, and avoid technical mishaps.
What does this mean for my divorce or separation case?
The good news is that it will almost certainly improve the process of reaching a financial agreement with your ex, and potentially speed it up too. In our experience of working with the FRCs so far, we have found it a more accessible solution, much better suited for our current times.
Digital Consent Orders (DCO) are now issued digitally, and can take as little as two weeks to come through. This faster electronic process of filing is also being introduced for Digital Contested Cases (DCC), along with the adoption of local zones and judges’ lists.
Financial remedies require care and attention
Just because FRC hearings are potentially less time-consuming, that doesn’t mean that drawing up your financial remedy should be rushed, or the processes involved underestimated. Coming to a financial agreement is still a complex process that can lead to long-term financial implications for you and your family. Taking expert legal advice at the start of the process ensures you are properly prepared, have obtained full disclosure from your ex and understand what is obtainable and what isn’t.
Need advice on your financial agreement or remedy?
Call us to book your initial 1-hour appointment with free 30 minutes included, and get the legal advice you need to move forward.
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