FHDRA, DRA and Family Court Fact Finding Hearings Lawyers Sheffield, Leeds & York

If parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding arrangements for their children it may be necessary to start court proceedings. Our team of experts will protect your interests throughout proceedings and guide you through each stage by providing clear and comprehensive advice.

In most cases, prior to issuing Children Act Proceedings, the parents must attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (unless an exemption applies)  to see if the issue can be dealt with through mediation without the need for court proceedings. If mediation is not suitable or unable to help you reach an agreement then the case can then progress to court. Once you have made an application to court the matter will be timetabled for the first hearing.

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA)

The FHDRA is the first hearing within the proceedings which will provide the parents with a chance to resolve the dispute with the assistance of the court. Prior to the FHDRA a referral will be made to the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) to carry out safeguarding checks on the children, which will involve a telephone appointment with both parents and statutory background checks with the police and relevant Local Authorities. At the hearing the court will consider the information provided by CAFCASS and consider what each parent is asking for.

As solicitors we can help you at this Hearing in your negotiations with your ex-partner to see if the way forwards can be agreed. If an agreement can be reached the court may make an order reflecting the terms of the agreement. However if an agreement cannot be reached the court will timetable the case for a further hearing and make orders for further reports and information where necessary. In circumstances where there are disputed allegations regarding domestic abuse the court may decide to direct a fact finding hearing.

Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA)

The court may direct CAFCASS to produce a full report prior to the DRA which will include recommendations on the child arrangements. CAFCASS will meet with the parents and the children so that they can fully assess the situation prior to writing a report.  At the DRA the court will consider the recommendations from CAFACASS and the parties will try to come to an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached the court will usually list the case for a final hearing where the court will ultimately make the final decision based on the children’s best interests.

Fact Finding Hearing

A fact finding hearing can take place at any stage during proceedings if disputed allegations, usually relating to domestic abuse are raised. The court obviously take such allegations very seriously and have to make findings on whether the allegations are true and, if so, how that impacts on the arrangements for the child.  When such allegations are made the court will decide as soon as possible whether a fact finding hearing is necessary.

Prior to a fact finding hearing both parties will prepare written statements about the allegations. At the hearing both parties will usually give evidence as well as any relevant witnesses and the court will consider whether to make any findings of fact. If the court makes findings of fact it will consider the effect of any domestic abuse on the children and the risks posed to the children when considering child arrangements. However, if the court does not make any findings the case will continue as if the allegations were false.

If you would like advice regarding children proceedings please contact us today.

Speak to the Child Law Solicitors at Lupton Fawcett

Lupton Fawcett’s experienced team of Child Law Solicitors can help you to find a solution to whatever challenges face your family or relationships over your arrangements for your children. We are on hand to guide you throughout what can be a difficult and emotional time.

Lupton Fawcett’s teams are leading family law specialists in Yorkshire and are available to see at any of our offices in Leeds, Sheffield and York.

We have spent over one hundred years using our legal skills to help you through difficult, complicated or emotional times.  Within every area of law, we put your interests first. We provide a personalised service, with specialised expertise and extensive resources to ensure we are giving you the best solutions to your problems.

Our Family Lawyers act regularly for clients on Child Arrangement matters across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

Call today or complete the enquiry form and we will get back in touch with you quickly.  We will always respond promptly, and we will be happy to help.

I instructed Chris Burns to advise me in relation to various financial issues which arose following the breakdown of my marriage. My case involved a dispute with my former husband over the ownership and occupation of a significant property with adjacent land. Chris steered me through the process of resolving this. Despite resistance from my former husband, Chris advised me with a determined focus and provided me with clear and pragmatic advice throughout the process and achieved my objective within the proceedings.


It’s rare to come across someone like Chris (Burns), absolutely clued up in his area, pragmatic and direct, yet supportive and respectful. As clients, he guided us through the process, quickly picking out what was important, remaining focused on the end game and delivering more than we could have expected. We would not hesitate to recommend Chris.


I would highly recommend Richard (Buckley) at Lupton Fawcett. He understood the difficult and sensitive nature of divorce and was reassuring and professional throughout. He explained the process clearly from the start and was always quick to respond

Charlotte H

'Chris Burns – experienced, capable, easy to talk to, provides an all round specialised knowledge of family work.‘

Legal 500 2021

‘Andy Smith is a fantastic professional and takes pride in his work. He has helped provide guidance on numerous occasions on legal issues to clients of mine and has not engaged in work where it was not needed.‘

Legal 500 2021

Lupton Fawcett have a great team and they are always friendly and approachable which is not something that can be said for all legal firms. They are not pushy for work and give plenty of time to think about whether or not you wish to engage them as a firm.‘

Legal 500 2021
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Chris Burns, Head of Family Law, discusses the new divorce laws

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