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Getting Ready for a Family Court Hearing

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Whether you are going to the family court for a hearing about your children and a child arrangement order, or for a financial settlement after your divorce, you need to be prepared for the court hearing. In this article, our family law solicitors offer some tips on how to best get ready for a family court hearing.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For family law advice and court representation call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

Getting ready for family court hearings

Our ten top tips for getting ready for a family court hearing are:

  1. Get some legal advice – it is never too early or too late to get family law advice. Early advice, before you make your court application, may help you resolve matters without having to attend court for a contested court hearing. For example, when you know your family law rights and the potential orders a family court can make, you are more likely to feel comfortable in negotiating an agreement directly with your ex-partner, or by using a family law solicitor to help you reach a compromise, or through attending family mediation. If you do end up in court proceedings, and you don’t want full legal representation, it is best to look at your options, such as getting help where you need it most. This could be a review of the evidence and an opinion or preparation of a statement
  2. Keep an open mind – when you start or respond to a family court application it is easy to get sucked into thinking your way is the best way and the only way. A judge may not agree with you. That’s why it is best to get early independent legal advice and to be prepared to review and adjust your position. Taking legal advice may ultimately save you money by assisting you in negotiating an agreement without having to go to court or by helping you avoid a cost order being made against you through a lawyer explaining the importance of procedural steps that you may have thought were not relevant to your application and could be safely ignored
  3. Comply with court orders – if you have been told to file a Form E financial disclosure document by a specified date or file a witness statement, it is best to stick to the court imposed date. If you don’t then you risk costs orders or the hearing being adjourned to a later date because your Form E or statement was either not prepared or filed late
  4. Sort out the basics – if you are worrying about the law and a family court hearing it can be easy to forget the basics. For example, do you know where the court is and the best place to park? Have you sorted out adequate child care cover in case the court hearing over runs and you are home later than expected? If you are represented, how will you find your family law solicitor in the maze of corridors and court rooms? Do you have special dietary needs? It is best to take food with you as cafes can shut early or not cater for your needs. There is nothing worse than going into negotiations or into court hungry and unable to concentrate
  5. Appearances count – we may be in a heatwave at the date of your court hearing but don’t wear shorts or an outfit that you would go out for the evening in. Whilst a judge won't make a decision based on what you are wearing, you do want to give the court the best first impression that you can
  6. Focus on what is important to you – it is easy to get distracted at court by side issues such as the contents of a family home or whether you should return your child at 5pm or 6pm when the important questions are really ‘’will I keep the family home?’’ or ‘’will I see my children every weekend?’’
  7. Know your case – if you want something it is important to know why. For example, if you want the family home, know why it is impracticable for you to downsize or why it is best for the children to stay at the family home
  8. Be polite – it is easy to get angry at court. Whether it was problems parking, the absence of a court usher to book in with on your arrival at court or the judge appearing to have misunderstood your case, the obvious thing to do is let your feelings show. That isn’t likely to help your case with the judge, so try to keep calm and polite
  9. Don’t interrupt too much – we have all seen family court hearings portrayed on TV where the family law solicitors spend all their time objecting to questions or challenging the judge. It is not like that in real life. You are likely to do yourself a disservice if you interrupt or object too much
  10. Don’t think it doesn’t matter because you can appeal – some people think it doesn’t matter if they represent themselves at a family court hearing and the decision goes against them. That’s because they think they can appeal if necessary and get a specialist family lawyer involved then. That may not work. You are best spending your money getting legal representation at the family court hearing because the law says you can only appeal if the judge got the law wrong or the facts wrong. That doesn’t happen that often. You can't appeal just because you don’t like the decision or because you did not use a family lawyer and think one would now do a better job for you and get you the result you want

Every family court case and every hearing are different so these are just general tips on attending the family court. For specific advice and family court representation call our specialist family law solicitors.

 Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For family law advice and representation call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

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