Important things to be aware of before stepping into the family court

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A Court House
Photo: SeanPavonePhoto, Bigstock

Stepping into the Family Court can be a trying experience. Nerves are high, the stakes are high and for someone who has never spent time in a courtroom, it can be incredibly daunting. The Family Court of Australia assists people in resolving complex family disputes with their specialist judges and staff. Some examples of disputes are child support matters, custody matters and other disputes to do with separation and divorce. Many people gain their idea of Family Court from movies, and this is often an inaccurate depiction. In order to be best prepared, there are some simple but important things to be aware of. This article will explore these things, and hopefully provide a little knowledge that offers some peace of mind.

Find a great representative

In order to be best aware of individual rights and responsibilities, it is best to find a great solicitor to help. Many who do not seek legal advice or support end up walking in blind, and begin the process on the back foot. A lawyer is extremely experienced in the courtroom and can guide clients on exactly what is going to happen. This knowledge can be extremely powerful as it leaves a client feeling prepared, confident and calm under what can be extremely stressful times. For those who are struggling financially, legal aid can be implemented to act as a representative and can often garner good results.

Dress formally

While it is not a necessity to dress formally, it is encouraged to do so. The court is an extremely serious place to be, and for a client to acknowledge this importance, it is beset to dress accordingly. Many who choose to wear everyday clothes can send out the wrong message, and not make the best impression with the judges. For those who do not wish to wear a suit, dressing as neatly as possible is also appropriate. Wearing thongs, shorts, singlets or no shoes is highly discouraged. It is important to be aware of how to dress before stepping into Family Court.

Find a babysitter

Many are not aware that it is discouraged to bring children into the courtroom. As it is a quiet place that needs everyone’s undivided attention, the less distractions the better. Unless otherwise stated, it is beneficial to organise a babysitter in advance. Alternatively, a child could be left with a trusted friend or family member. For those who have no-one to leave their children with, they can discuss their options with their lawyer or with the court ahead of time.

Arrive early

It is absolutely vital to arrive at least thirty minutes before the scheduled start time. While it is possible that a case won’t be called at the scheduled time, it can sometimes occur, and it is important to not be late or miss the calling. For first-timers, the process can be overwhelming so arriving early can help counteract surprises that pop up e.g. not knowing where to go or who to talk to. Arriving early can also give a chance to go over notes with the solicitor and to mentally prepare for the process ahead.

Eat beforehand

There is no food, drink or chewing gum allowed inside the courtroom so it is important to eat beforehand. On top of consuming food and drink beforehand, it is wise to use the facilities before entering as well. For those that have medical issues where they may need food or regular toilet visits, need to discuss this with their lawyer, or with the court well before the day.

Be silent in the courtroom

All mobile phones and devices must be turned off beforehand, as it is a silent and professional arena. Things like chewing, chatting, laughing or any other noises are frowned upon, so it is important to be aware of this. Some clients are advised to take a simple stress ball into the courtroom in order to distract themselves while they wait. Others practice deep breathing techniques to remain calm.

In conclusion, there are some important things to be aware of before stepping into the family court. You might ask your family lawyer for more information, however, it is important to first find a great representative that will explain all the rights and responsibilities that a client has. As court is a formal setting it is beneficial to dress accordingly. Unless otherwise stated, children are not encouraged to attend court, so it is wise to find a babysitter ahead of time. Arriving early is crucial, as well as eating beforehand due to no food or drink allowed in the courtroom. All mobile devices must be turned off when entering the room as silence is encouraged. Knowing these simple things can help a family court experience be as stress-free and pleasant as can possibly be.