In chronological order if you followed my blogging you’ll not doubt not be surprised by the title of this blog. So this blog is designed to give you an overview of what the financial court proceedings looks like, and my recent experience of it. I’m not a lawyer, so don’t assume any of this is legal advice or correct! Right disclaimers out the way here goes.
So i recently attended an FDR, Financial Dispute Resolution, I think it stands for. This is the second time I’ve been to court, the first time was called a FDA – I can’t remember what that stood for. The next step in the process is the Final Hearing. All on the assumption that you don’t do a deal before then.
There are different rules and things that happen at each, but as far as my small but growing knowledge in these matters cover, these are all areas for a judge to advise what sort of deal you should do, and then at the final hearing if you can’t sort it out the judge tells you what to do.
So, I’m at stage 2, the FDR. It was todate the worse experience of my life, from a stress point of view. You feel like shit. If you’re about to go to one, I’m sorry to say, it’s not going to be pleasant. It’s shit. But, it’s only a day.
The hardest thing is how clinical everything is, it’s just another day in court for all the people around you and yet for you, and your ex-partner it’s as harrowing as it gets.
You head off into the court room and the judge sits and the end of the table, and without delay you get straight into it. Thankfully you dont have to say anything as the barristers and the judge do all the talking. They summarise where you are at and the main issues and the judge makes a few comments, and gives what they call ‘guidance’. It didnt help that my judge gave little guidance, there was lots of ifs, buts and maybes. After what seems like forever, we all trundle out into separate rooms. This is where we all talk about the ‘guidance’ and discuss next moves. This is normally in the form of an offer or encouraging the other side to make an offer. The barristers leave and meet in the corridor to discuss and negotiate positions. All the while you just sit there wondering what’s being said, what the ex is thinking, and frankly how much you hate being there.
The barrister returns. At this point, it’s like of a reserve scenario of when you were at school and you got your mate to ask a girl out on your behalf. What did they say, what did they say. If you’re lucky, you can start to reach a point where you can this whole sorry mess behind you. Unfortunately for me, what they said, was not at all what i wanted to hear. We do this back and forth a few times, and then we’re back into see the judge.
Being frank, it’s a bit of a blur and most of goes over my head, but I feel like I’m in and out of the little rooms, different rooms everytime as contrary to what feel, this is happening all over the court, multiple times and multiple places, so as soon as you leave your room you tend to have some other poor bastard jumping into it to run through the same procedure.
Ideally, by the end of the day, you’ve reached an agreement or a decision. At best you’re glad its over, at worst you’re bitter, and torn up inside. But it’s over.
If you experience what I experienced you don’t reach a decision, the offers arent close enough or for whatever reason you can’t find common group, the barristers and lawyers go in and make their plans for the final hearing, in something that sort of feels like they are drawing up an order form for you to pay tens of thousands in a couple of months time. They’re not excited by it, they’re not unhappy, they’re just doing their job.
So as I left the court that day, probably having spent 10k on the pleasure of it, achieved nothing other than hurt, upset and emotional turmoil, I was pretty down about it all. Despite all the erratic and emotional thoughts about what to do next, I just went for a coffee and sat doing nothing, somewhat shellshocked. I was like that for a few days in truth. After a week or so, the sun came out and the memories passed. Times waits for no man or divorce.
So now it’s onto the Final Hearing, the most expensive and well publicised of ‘court’ when it comes to divorce. Early indications are it will cost around £25k per party, but at least this time we’re paying for the pleasure of the judge to ‘tell’ us what to do rather than pass their ‘guidance’.
Money well spent? I’m not so sure, but I’ll be glad when it’s all finally over.