Starting out afresh

What to Do If You Have to Appear in Court for Your Family Law Hearing

by Rainier Van Der Harst

Family law proceedings can be fraught. While the current family law processes encourage participants to resolve their issues through mediation before appearing in court, it may not always be successful. If worse comes to worst and you are forced to appear in court, here are some important things to remember. 

Dress for the Occasion

Appearing in court is a serious matter, and the judge will want to see that you care enough to turn up on time and dress appropriately. For men, this generally means a suit and tie, and for women, a pant suit, skirt suit or dress is appropriate. It's also a good idea to put some extra effort into personal hygiene so that you look as well groomed as possible for court, such as shaving or getting a haircut. Your lawyer can often give you some advice on any tweaks that you need to make to your appearance for family court.

Keep It Calm

The court process gives both sides of the case a chance to express their own case, which does mean you need to sit there and listen to what they have to say. It can be distressing if your partner is telling untruths about the time you spent together, but it is important to stay calm and not interject. Your lawyer will have their own strategy for dealing with these allegations and revealing the truth so you can have the best outcome. If something unexpected comes up that you need to discuss with the lawyer, try writing them a note rather than bursting out with commentary.

Practise Beforehand

Your lawyer may ask you to practise answers to certain questions or practise statements. It's important that you spend some time doing this in front of other people so you can get feedback on how you are coming across. For instance, answers may be focused around prioritising the safety and wellbeing of your child, rather than confronting your spouse. By properly conveying the depth of your relationship with your child and the affection you have for them, you can have a more powerful stance in your case. Your lawyer will help you frame this correctly. 

If you are in the middle of an acrimonious divorce proceeding, it's important to have a solid and trusting relationship with your lawyer so you can put your best case forward. Lawyers have a depth of experience not only with the legal processes involved in divorce and separation, but also in the practical aspect of how courts operate. It's useful to embrace and learn from their experience.