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.