UK Family Law: What is FHDRA?

“First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Appointment” is what FHDRA stands for, which is a lot to say. Sa mga court cases involving children, this first hearing can be scary for many people, especially those who are going to court on their own.

What happens and what should you expect at this first hearing?

So, you’ve made your case to court. It could be for something called a Child Arrangements Order. You’ve been told by the court that a date has been set for the FHDRA.

What’s the next step?

First, watch out for what happens before the FHDRA. You should get a letter from CAFCASS called “Schedule 2.” CAFCASS is likely to talk to you and the other parent to find out what you both think. They will also do simple checks with the police and social services. In the letter, they will write down what they found and, if they are able to, what their first suggestions are.

Statements are not usually accepted as proof at the FHDRA. This is because at the FHDRA, the court will focus on the issues and, based on those issues, decide how to move your case forward. The court will want to know what you want and why, so bringing your ideas with you to court will help your case. In the same way, the court will want to know what the other person thinks of your ideas. If you can agree on things, the FHDRA can make your agreement into a legally binding court order, and your case could be over at the first meeting.

At some courts, a CAFCASS worker on duty will be present at the FHDRA. Find them and ask to talk with them. They will try to’mediate’ a deal between you and the other person. Sometimes, they’ll show up in court and say what they think about any points of disagreement.

If you accuse the other person of violence or they accuse you of violence, one of the most important choices a court will have to make is whether or not a “finding of fact” is needed. This is a different court meeting where a judge will decide if the accusations are true or not. A court will have to decide if it needs to make a finding of fact before it can handle your case. For example, will a finding of fact change how much time your kid spends with the other parent or how likely it is that your child will stay with the other person? If this is the case, a court may ask you to make a table or “schedule” of your claims. The court will tell you how many you can use. You’ll be told to write a statement to back up your case. The other person will have the right to react, and he or she will be told to do so.

The court will sometimes decide that it needs more information or proof, such as from the cops or social services. If the court thinks that one of you is using illegal drugs or drinking too much, it may order that you take a drug test or an alcohol test. At the FHDRA, the court can also give orders about these kinds of things.

At the FHDRA, the court could ask CAFCASS to make a report. The report may have a lot of information about risks or worries about the other person. This kind of report is called a “Section 7 report.” Most of the time, someone from CAFCASS will meet you, the other person, and your children. They will talk to the kids, look at what the cops have found out, and come up with a suggestion. If your children are old enough to be able to make their own choices, CAFCASS may also take their thoughts into account in a “wishes and feelings report.”

If you and the other person just can’t agree and there are no risks, a court will probably set your case for a final hearing where you and the other person will each have to make a statement with your ideas and why you think they should be accepted.

In conclusion, a lot can happen at the FHDRA, which is probably the most important meeting in your case. If you make a mistake or leave something out, you might have to wait. Even worse, it could hurt your case very badly.

If you want to be represented at the FHDRA, want more help to prepare for the FHDRA, or have already had the FHDRA and realised you need help, please call me, Atty Don Magsino, at 07446 888 377 for appointments in London or email me at donm@queensparksolicitors.co.uk

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