Ever find yourself embroiled in a family law in Glasgow kerfuffle in Glasgow and suddenly BAM! FHDRA hits hard..
This “FHDRA Guide” is your helpful way to understand the whole deal.
This guide is here to be your help on this emotional rollercoaster. Think of it as your key to the conference room where you finally learn what FHDRA stands for (First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment, boom!).
Whether you’re a newbie facing your first family law rodeo or just need a refresher on Glasgow’s specific FHDRA process, this guide is your Scranton Strangler of knowledge. We’ll break down what to expect, how to prepare, and even explain the roles of all the players involved (judges, lawyers, maybe even a surprise Kevin cameo?).
Remember, with the right information, you can navigate your FHDRA like a champ (even if you don’t win the Dundie for “Most Improved Legal Knowledge”).
Your Guide to FHDRA: Navigating Family Law in Glasgow
FHDRAs are the initial hearing held upon receiving an application and are designed to determine if an agreement can be reached between both parents or whether further proceedings need to be undertaken, such as attending a Dispute Resolution Appointment or final hearing.
At FHDRA, a Cafcass Officer (known as a WFPO) will attempt to bring both parties together and explore ways of resolving issues if it is safe.
This table provides a concise overview of the FHDRA process, highlighting its purpose, what happens during the hearing, the roles of different participants, and how to prepare for it, making it an invaluable resource for anyone navigating family law in Glasgow.
|Purpose of the FHDRA
|To identify issues in family law cases, especially regarding children, and to explore resolution options.
|It usually includes all parties involved and a cass officer.
|Cafcass conducts initial safeguarding checks and collates the findings in a safeguarding letter.
|Proceedings at FHDRA
|The court considers safeguarding reports, encourages agreement, and may request position statements.
|If no agreement is reached,
|The court may issue a written judgement or require further investigation.
|Use of FHDRA
|An opportunity to resolve disputes without further hearings through methods like mediation.
|It is useful for expressing arguments and concerns, as no evidence is seen at this stage.
|If issues are settled, a final order may be issued; otherwise, the judge will identify issues to resolve.
|Conducts interviews, provides reports, and may suggest compromise solutions.
|It focuses on pressing issues, examines available evidence, and may require additional reports.
|Essential for navigating the FHDRA process, especially in complex cases.
What happens at the FHDRA?
The FHDRA (First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment) is the initial court hearing in proceedings regarding children. Its purpose is to help identify issues between parties at an early stage and decide how best to progress the matter; usually all parties and a Cafcass Officer attend.
Prior to attending an FHDRA hearing, Cafcass officers will have conducted initial safeguarding checks with both parents and children, typically through telephone interviews, with findings being provided to the court via a “safeguarding letter.” Furthermore, Cafcass will have coordinated their inquiries with the police and social services as necessary.
At FHDRA, the court will take safeguarding reports into account and, where possible, encourage the parties to reach an agreement that brings proceedings to an end without further hearings. They may also request both sides file a position statement providing an overview of how they would like the case to develop.
If no agreement can be reached at an FHDRA hearing, the court will set forth its conclusions in a written judgment. If they cannot determine what would be in the best interests of the child based on the evidence presented at this hearing, then no orders will be made at this time; more investigation may be necessary, such as from police or social worker reports.
FHDRAs are key stages in proceedings, yet they do not usually result in definitive rulings. Instead, courts use this stage as an opportunity to see whether parties can come together on an agreement without further hearings; such methods could include mediation or alternative dispute resolution techniques such as arbitration.
Our family specialists have discovered that creating a position statement before the FHDRA can be useful, as it allows you to express all of your arguments and concerns in writing, especially since no evidence is seen by the court at this stage.
What can I expect at the FHDRA?
An FHDRA (First Hearing Date and Report Analysis) meeting takes place as the initial hearing in private law children’s proceedings (cases between privately funded individuals rather than local authorities) to discuss how the court should proceed with their case.
If all issues can be settled at the FHDRA, the judge may issue a final order, and your case can come to an end. However, this isn’t always possible, and in such instances, if there are unresolved disputes, then the judge will identify those issues and suggest ways they might best be settled; often, this involves ordering that both parties create statements outlining arrangements proposed for children by each side.
The court will then decide what steps are needed to move your case forward, such as instructing Cafcass to prepare a report. Therefore, it is crucial that you attend your FHDRA hearing because a lot could happen at this stage in the process and failure could delay or compromise it altogether.
Before your FHDRA hearing, Cafcass will send out a “Schedule 2” letter and arrange an interview between you and the other parent to discuss your views and what happens with regard to your children. Failing to raise concerns at such interviews effectively could cause future difficulties, so it is always advisable to seek legal advice prior to attending such interviews.
At FHDRA hearings, the court will review initial safeguarding checks and the range of issues in dispute. Although no evidence is typically heard during these proceedings, it’s worthwhile to prepare a position statement ahead of time; this will enable you to outline your positions and arguments, which can prove invaluable when speaking at hearings where speaking freely may not be an option.
FHDRA hearings may take place either in person or remotely, so if you’re uncertain which is applicable to you, please get in contact with the court beforehand and confirm. It is extremely important that if you fail to show up for your FHDRA, this could be interpreted as your not wanting to take part and could significantly impact its outcome and delay.
What can I do to prepare for the FHDRA?
When applying to the court for a child arrangements order or prohibited steps order, you will likely receive a date for a first hearing, known as an FHDRA (First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment). At this appointment, the court can evaluate your case and decide how it should progress.
At their heart, court proceedings aim to resolve any outstanding issues and, where possible, make final orders. While this may not always be feasible, depending on the situation, courts also strive to identify unresolvable matters and give directions for future resolution. Children must remain at the centre of any proceedings that affect them while making sure their feelings and wishes are considered (this requirement forms part of the welfare checklist).
Unless Cafcass has already been involved, they will need to create a report about your case. They will speak with both parents, the children (depending on their ages), and any witnesses before coming up with recommendations regarding what should happen with it. If there are concerns over risk, they will complete a detailed risk analysis report known as Section 7, while if someone makes allegations against either you or your children, they will create a separate fact-finding report known as Section 8 instead.
At FHDRA hearings, it’s also common for a duty CAFCASS officer to attend, since CAFCASS is responsible for initiating telephone interviews between parties regarding your application. By having someone from CAFCASS present during hearings and trying to help reach agreement on any areas of contention at hearings as well as suggesting compromise solutions to court, these officers can often aid the parties involved in reaching an amicable resolution before court hearings begin.
If your case is more complex, it will go before a district judge; otherwise, magistrates who have legal advisors at their side will hear it. Magistrates don’t serve as professional judges but have considerable knowledge of family law as well as being trained as legal advisers.
How can I prepare for the FHDRA?
FHDRAs (First Hearing for Domestic Child Related Action) are typically the initial hearing in any private law child case and provide directions from the court regarding how it will proceed with this matter. A Cafcass Safeguarding Letter may also be issued at this hearing for consideration by all parties involved. These aren’t exhaustive lists, as courts may direct additional hearings in child-related matters.
At an FHDRA hearing, the court will focus on what it considers to be the most pressing issues and try to help both parties reach an agreement in areas where they differ. They will also examine any evidence they have received, but statements are usually not permitted at these proceedings but medical reports may be.
If everything can be settled at the FHDRA hearing, they could issue an order to close your case there and then. Unfortunately, however, that is often not the case, as there may be issues that cannot be settled there.
In such cases, the court will issue an order and set out the timeframes and issues they need to address. They may order a Cafcass report, as this is required in all instances.
Current Practice Direction states that children must be at the forefront of proceedings, with their needs, wishes, and feelings taken into consideration during proceedings. Unfortunately, it seems difficult to achieve this without resorting to a Section 7 report.
If you are involved in a child law matter and facing an FHDRA hearing, it is vital that you seek legal advice immediately. Failure to do so could delay and substantially prejudice your case. At Kabir Family Law, our team of expert family law specialists is on hand to offer expert guidance in your situation and offer legal guidance tailored to meet the specifics of each case. Reach out now for an initial telephone consultation session!