Preparing to attend a family court hearing can be stressful but our family law solicitors can guide and support you through the process. Here are ten things we think you should know before you attend a hearing.
1. Check with your solicitor whether the hearing will take place
Is the hearing listed to be in person at the court building or via a remote link for example Microsoft Teams? If the hearing is to take place at court, check with your solicitor what time the hearing is listed to start. If the hearing is remote, you should be sent a link directly to your email. If you have any issues joining the link remotely you should call your solicitor as soon as possible to let them know. You may be able to attend the hearing remotely from your solicitor’s office if you prefer. If you attend from home you must be in a private place and have complete privacy as family proceedings are confidential.
2. Ensure you have made appropriate childcare arrangements in advance of the hearing
It is advised that you do not bring children to the court building if this can be avoided. Your solicitor should be able to advise you on the estimated length of the hearing to enable you to arrange appropriate supervision for your children.
3. Make sure you have something appropriate to wear
There is no written rule regarding the dress wear at court however it is likely your solicitor will advise that you attend in formal wear to ensure you make the best first impression possible.
4. Find out who else will be attending
There will be several people you should expect to see at court. These include:
- The other parties in the proceedings
- Your solicitor and the other parties’ solicitors
- The judge, or magistrates, who will enter the court room once all parties are seated and ready for the hearing to begin
- The clerk, who assists the judge
- The usher, who will greet you outside the court room.
5. It is important that you arrive at the court building on time
It is advised that you arrive one hour before the hearing starts unless your solicitor tells you otherwise. This will give you the opportunity to get through security, find your court room and speak with your solicitor before the hearing begins. It is best to arrive early so you do not feel rushed and to protect against any unplanned delays.
6. Book in when you arrive
Once you arrive at court you will need to book in with the court usher who you will find on the floor of your court building. You will need to provide your name and the court case name. This will ensure that your attendance is noted.
7. Make sure your phone is turned off
You must ensure that your phone is kept on silent or turned off during the hearing to avoid any disruptions. You must not record any part of the court hearing. If you do, you could be held in contempt of the court and sanctioned. The court will be responsible for recording the hearing.
8. Your solicitor will represent you during the hearing
This means they will speak to the judge on your behalf. Although you won’t be speaking to the judge directly, unless you have to give evidence, you will still be present in the court room and so you must act respectfully and must not interrupt the hearing.
9. If you are disabled the court will be accessible
If you have a disability, do not worry, as the courts are accessible for people with disabilities. You should contact your solicitor if there are any specific adjustments you need the court to make as they can inform the court.
10. Make sure you eat and drink before the hearing
Lastly, attending court can be stressful so make sure you have had something to drink and eat before the hearing. If it helps, you can bring someone along to offer you support, but they cannot enter the court room with you.
Watch the video below to find out more about attending the family court in person:
By Nicola Horrocks, paralegal