You may need to attend a Family Court for a variety of reasons, for example: adopting a child, arranging residence or contact with children after a divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership or separation. Of course, as family is involved emotions may be running high and you might not have had to attend a court before. This can be a worrying situation, so here are some tips and facts to help you to stay calm.
Who can I bring with me to Family Court?
It is natural to want some support when attending court. If you have a lawyer, they will be present for the entire case. If not, it is advisable to bring someone for moral support. There can be a lot of waiting around at court, and you will be grateful to have someone to talk to. If you don’t have a lawyer, the person you bring may be able to sit in on the hearing (but you should check with the Judge).
What should I wear to Family Court?
There is no dress code for court, however you should try to appear neat and smart. You will also want to be comfortable because the day may be long. Hearings can often take much longer than the time estimated for them. Remember that you will want to give a good impression – you should be polite when speaking in court.
What should I do when I arrive?
First of all, you should sign in with the clerk so that they know that you have arrived. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for travel – you don’t want to be late and it is best to arrive early, so that you have time to prepare and calm your nerves. You should already have your case number. Search for this number on the Court list; this will tell you which courtroom the hearing will take place in and the name of the Judge.
When will a decision be made?
This depends entirely on the case. There are many different variables which can affect how quickly a decision can be made. If this is the first time you have attended court, it is likely that the hearing will be used to ascertain how things stand and more time may be given to gather the evidence required to make a full decision. This is perfectly normal.
How can I prepare for my hearing?
If you will require any adjustments, e.g. for a disability, contact the court to let them know and they will make the appropriate arrangements.
If you do not have a lawyer, then you should make sure that you have all of the documents ready for the hearing. You can only use documents that you have already filed with the court.
Family Court Covid-19 Safety
Temporary changes have been brought in to keep you safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, many hearings will be dealt with remotely over a secure video call, and you should only attend court when specifically ordered to do so by the Judge. If you have any queries or concerns at all, you should contact your family lawyer who will be able to help.
A visit to Family Court can be nerve wracking, but with the right preparation it doesn’t need to be intimidating. If you need support with your Family Law matter, please get in touch.