A court hearing

A hearing in Family Court is private so there may only be a few people in the room.

Some hearings will be dealt with by a panel of 3 Magistrates (sometimes 2) assisted by a Legal Adviser, others by Judges (legally qualified). We’ve used the term “Judge” to refer to both Judges and Magistrates. Find out more about court roles.

In Child Arrangement cases it normally takes a few months for a court to decide but cases can go on for a lot longer. You might need to go to court a few times.

If you are going to court for a protective order you may only have to attend once, unless there is a return hearing because the other person would like the order to be discharged (cancelled).

Watch this video to help you prepare to go to court

At each hearing the Judge will listen carefully to what everyone has to say and decide what should happen next. The Judge needs to organise the case and which issues are dealt with in what order. It is important that everyone involved in the case knows what information will be discussed at each hearing. There shouldn’t be any surprises. If there is new information this should be shared before the hearing. Sometimes, if information is missing, or there isn’t time, a Judge will just deal with part of the disagreement and arrange more hearings to deal with the other parts.

Preparing for court