What happens when we go through the family court? At every family court hearing, all parties should be given a chance to have their say before any decisions are made, but the judge will need to focus everyone on the things s/he needs to hear about in order to make a decision. Before the majority of cases come before a family court, forms will have been filled in which gives the judge the basics of each case.

Questions will be asked during the hearing and you or your legal representation will be expected to answer all questions calmly and as accurately as possible.

Decision Making When Going Through Family Courts

Family courts reach final decisions over a period of time. Sometimes a judge will need to postpone dealing with some issues and just deal with part of the dispute at one hearing, perhaps because some information is missing or there isn’t time. Court hearings should proceed on the basis that everyone, including the judge, has seen in advance all the paperwork relied upon by any party.

There are various types of hearing and if you are going through the family courts it would be sensible to familiarise yourself with the type of hearing you will be attending.

Directions hearings, for example, are shorter hearings and are really there to get the case ready for a hearing where a full decision will be made.

Another hearing you may want to read more about is a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA). This refers to the first hearing in connection with an application about children (for example a dispute about where children should live), at which the court will consider safeguarding checks on the family and will attempt to resolve the matter or identify the range of dispute if this is not possible.

This hub has a lot of material on family courts and what you can expect there. There are informative articles on CAFCASS and how they are appointed and advise a court in your case. We recommend careful reading of all this material as family courts are different and work in ways that you may not be used to.


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External Resources

NACCC

Child Contact Centres are neutral places where children of separated families can enjoy contact with non-resident parents, and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment. Every year, this national organisation, via its member centres, supports families and children in their local community.

Support Through Court

National charity that supports those who don't have legal representation in the family courts.

No Family Lawyer YouTube

Short and informative videos created by leading family law barrister Lucy Reed.

Family Court Information Website

A website full of information about attending family court. Although centered around Bristol/Bath, this site contains information that can be applied anywhere.

Citizens Advice

Explanations of ways to end a marriage set out clearly.