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EMPOWERING THE PUBLIC THROUGH FAMILY COURT

Disclaimer : Our guides do not in any way constitute legal advice. The guides have been developed by lay people who are not lawyers and have no legal training or qualifications.

 
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The Dispute Resolution Appointment
 
 
 
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The Dispute Resolution Appointment

(DRA)

 
     
  A ‘Dispute Resolution Appointment’, is the second court hearing after a C100 application has been made to the court.  
     
   
     
     
  The main purpose is to try and mediate a resolution to proceedings. If a Cafcass Section 7 / Impact Analysis Report was ordered at the FHDRA, then the author of that report will also be present.  
     
   
     
  The main purpose is to try and mediate a resolution to proceedings. If a Cafcass Section 7 / Impact Analysis Report was ordered at the FHDRA, then the author of that report will also be present.

The DRA is usually listed about 3 months after the FHDRA.

The Cafcass Officer will discuss their recommendations with both parties to try and seek agreements or to narrow down the issues.

Evidence from parties is not permitted to be submitted for this hearing unless permission has been sought and given by the court.

A concise 'Position Statement' laying out a response to the Section 7 / Impact Analysis Report is permitted and can be filed with the court and submitted to the other side 5 days before the hearing or more commonly taken to the court on the day. This should not include evidence.

 
     
   
     
  Bring to the court 3 x copies of any 'Position Statement' and your McKenzie Friend will bring 3 copies of their CV.

You should meet your McKenzie Friend arrive 1 hour before the hearing time. On arrival, your McKenzie Friend will book you both in at the reception or with the court usher. Your McKenzie Friend will present their CV. If a 'Position Statement' has been completed, this will also be submitted. Your McKenzie Friend may also have to complete the courts own McKenzie Friend attendance form.

Your McKenzie Friend should then identify the presence of the other party and whether they are represented. Once they have been identified, a copy of their CV and any 'Position Statement' should be handed to the other side in advance of speaking to the Cafcass officer and going into court.

You should then wait for the interviews with the Cafcass 0fficer. This interview is done separately and the applicant is usually spoken to first.

When you are called into the interview room, your McKenzie Friend has a right to be present.

Your McKenzie Friend will hand a copy of their CV and your 'Position Statement' to the Cafcass Officer.

Please note that The DRA is not privileged. That is to say that what is said at the DRA may be referred to at later court hearings.

With the aid of their Section 7 / Impact Analysis Report, the Cafcass officer will seek to assist the parties in resolving some or all of the issues between.

There will be a possible of 5 main outcomes / considerations from discussions:

a) That there is full agreement and the court can provide a 'Consent Order'

b) That there is no agreement in which case the court will set a Final Hearing.

c) That there is 'part agreement' in which case the court can decide to order a shorter Final Hearing limited to the outstanding issues.

d) The progression of any interim contact.

e) Considerations to any Safeguarding requirements.

Once the Cafcass Officer has spoken to both parties, the court calls everyone, including the Cafcass Officer into court. Usually the Cafcass officer informs the court of any progress and outlines any remaining issues between the two parties, any safeguarding issues and provides recommendations for progressing interim contact.

If there is no Section 7 / Impact Analysis Report, then a Cafcass Officer may not be present at the DRA. In this case it is down to both parties to use the time prior to the court hearing to negotiate. Your McKenzie Friend, as a 'layperson', can assist in negotiating with the legal representative of the other side.

The DRA Hearing with agreements:

If agreement has been reached, the Judge will consider the agreement and produce a consent order.

The DRA Hearing without agreements:

The court will review any interim contact orders and may progress contact.

Final witness statements will be ordered from both parties, these are called 'Narrative Statements'. These should be written with full consideration of the factors under the Child Welfare Checklist. These are evidential statements and should be signed and dated as:

'This statement is to the best of my knowledge and belief true'.

 
     
   
     
  The court will decide the issues to be decided for the Final Hearing.  
     
  The court will decide whether any third-party witnesses / statements are required and ordered.  
     
  A date will be set for the Final Hearing, usually 3 months after the DRA.  
     
     
 

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DIRECTOR
     
 
Philip Kedge is a retired police Chief Inspector and the founder and director of the McKenzie Friend UK Network. His aim is to take family law out of the hands of solicitors with an ethical business to reduce conflict and acrimony, to provide a cost effective McKenzie Friend national service and to reduce the emotional harm to children.
 
Contact Phil today: 01420 370770
 
       
 
 
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