There are three key stages in the Children Act:
A first hearing and dispute resolution appointment (FHDRA) is the starting stage in proceedings. Here a judge will decide what needs to be done before the case can be decided. This can include ordering an expert assessment or drug and alcohol testing. Where appropriate, parents can negotiate at this stage and it may be the only hearing you attend.
A Dispute Resolution Appointment generally takes place when all expert reports have been provided and all the evidence has been obtained.
At a DRA, a judge will help the parties to try to agree a settlement between themselves. The judge will probably give a non-binding indication about what they think should happen in the case and then allow you to negotiate around this.
Where parties cannot otherwise agree, a final hearing will be necessary. At this, the court will hear evidence from the parties, any relevant experts and, if appropriate, the children. The judge will then make a decision and order the contact/residence which they think is best.
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.
Vardags Limited is a limited company trading as Vardags, Company No 7199468, registered in England and Wales, having its registered office at 10 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7NG. Vardags is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 535955). Its VAT number is 99 001 7230.
Vardags uses the term ‘Partner’ as a professional title only, to describe a Senior Solicitor, Employee or Consultant with relevant experience, expertise and qualifications (whether legally qualified or otherwise) to merit the title. Our Partners are not partners in the legal sense. They are not liable for the debts, liabilities or obligations of Vardags Limited. Similarly, the term ’Director’ is a professional title only, to describe a non-legally qualified employee or consultant of Vardags with relevant experience, expertise and qualifications to merit the title. It does not necessarily imply that the relevant individual is a director of Vardags Limited.
A list of the directors of Vardags Limited and a list of the names of those using the title of ’Director’ and ’Partner’ together with their official status is available for inspection at Vardags’ registered office.