Friday afternoon FDR - Waste of time!(4 Posts)
I had my FDR yesterday. It was scheduled for 1400hrs. I was there an hour before, the other side and his solicitor 40 mins before. We had a quick chat, couldn't agree, and the judge called us in early as we were there. He asked the other side to outline the case. Which they did in a completely biased way (obviously), including quoting facts and figures they know to be incorrect. I was given no opportunity to correct those figures. The judge stated roughly what he thought would happen. Sent us out for 20 mins saying, I will get you back in if you are ready or not. Other side and his solicitor spent 15 mins chatting then gave me an offer. I told them it was not acceptable but would counter. I had no time to come up with a counter offer. Judge called us in, asked if we had agreed. We said no and he then said he would send it to a final hearing and that was that! No encouragement to negotiate, no guidance, nothing.
We weren't far apart and it seems ridiculous that it will now go to a Final Hearing just so he could rush off for his weekend. It was like the Marie Celeste when we came out of the court room, just the usher waiting for us to hurry up and go home.
When I first received the appointment I predicted this is how it would go and so it turned out. Absolutely no point doing any prep for it as he read nothing other than the other side's Statement of issues (which I did not agree so submitted my own).
At least I can't get the same judge for the Final Hearing and it will be scheduled for a day so both sides will be heard.
Am I right in saying the wait time tends to be about 6 months for FH?
Waiting time not necessarily 6months for final hearing. And I'd be careful.
Be totally prepared. And, if you are a litigant in person, be totally prepared to say to Judge - 'can I please have time to consider this' / 'can I have a 15 minute recess' etc so that you are fully aware (as much as you can be in such a fraught situation).
Don't be pushed over -and if you don't agree to what is said - say so as the transcribers will write this down. It is a long up-hill battle, but courts are now hurrying through cases, and if you are not represented, then the represented side will get all the court time needed, but you will not.
If you are represented, then expressly say to your solicitor that all things need to be explained simply to you, and if they are not, then you need clarification. If then your solicitor does not represent your wishes, you can question this if needs be at a later date.
Truly sympathetic as you are in a bind - but you must get all your points out - childcare, working life, disparity of income, pension disparity, etc. Look at Schedule 1 applications under 1989 Children's Act as they may apply to you.
Basically, at each stage where you do not agree or understand, state this to be the case, and if the judge pushes the matter through, or will not not give you time, at least this is in the transcript so you can have a come back if needed.
My experience is that Judges are biased towards men and especially represented men, but you mustn't say this in court! Make sure you take friend along if you are on your own and make sure you have all your costs covered for. You need to be on the ball as the system won't help you. If you are represented, then you must ensure your solicitor is on the ball - ask them every question imaginable - don't assume anything.
Thank-you. I am more than happy to stick up for myself at the Final Hearing.
I felt at FDR I could have made a fuss about not being heard but actually it probably wasn't going to make a difference to the outcome on the day so there was little point. Between the judge and the other side's solicitor I definitely felt like I was being bullied in to making a decision and I was adamant I was not going to do that when I did not have time to consider it properly.
Interestingly the judge this time was the polar opposite in personality and approach to the one I had at the First Appointment. At least I know this one is off the list for FH!
Good luck. Be totally vigilant - difficult if you're on your own. And yes, Judges differ widely - a problem with the system. But don't concern yourself with that. Just know that the Judges are now on a 'clock' and they are expected to finish cases as soon as possible, and so they rush through stuff, relying on the represented side's legal team to direct them. Totally unfair. But you can make a difference. You can be strong. Just make sure you state ill-ease when it happens. They can't force you - even though they do bully you. Agreement has to be reached. Best of luck.
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