Will I be able to speak with my Lawyer in private?
Yes. However, the Court venue is generally very busy, particularly in the mornings and there are only limited private conference rooms available. This means it may be necessary for you to speak with your Lawyer in open areas.
Will there be an opportunity to negotiate outside of Court?
Depending upon the nature of the listing there may be opportunities for negotiations to take place outside the courtroom. Lawyers commonly meet before a hearing to discuss issues in dispute, enquire whether any issues can be agreed, exchange documents, etc.
Your Lawyer will confer with you throughout any negotiations and will not make any offers or concessions without having first obtained your instructions. The negotiation process can be quite pressured or stressful. In considering any offers or proposals made by the other party your Lawyer is likely to discuss with you the following –
- Whether an offer falls within a reasonable range of potential outcomes if you were to proceed to a hearing.
- The likely attitude of a particular Judge or Magistrate to the issue in dispute.
- The cost/benefit of pursuing a particular aspect of your matter. For example you may be counselled against insisting upon the return of certain personal items in circumstances where the replacement value is less than the likely legal fees outlaid in pursuing the same.
- Potential delay involved in securing a final decision and factors which may work for or against you during any such delay.
- The emotional cost of pursuing a litigated outcome not only for yourself but also your children and possibly other family members.
- The uncertainty of outcome given the discretionary nature of decision making in the Family Court.
How do I address the Court?
This depends upon the Judicial Officer concerned. If your matter is heard before a Registrar, you may address him/her as “Registrar” or “Sir/Madam”. If your matter is listed before a Magistrate or Judge, you must address him/her as “Your Honour” or “Sir/Madam”.
If a Judicial Officer of any kind is sitting when you enter or leave a courtroom, you must bow towards the person. You must also stand and bow whenever the Judicial Officer enters or leaves the courtroom.
You will only be required to address the Judicial Officer if he/she addresses you directly, otherwise our lawyer will be present to talk on your behalf during the Hearing.
Can I bring a support person?
You are welcome to bring a support person or two with you. We suggest you do not bring many people. This may intimidate the other party or cause arguments. Please consider how the other party may react to the presence of your support person, particularly if that person is a new partner. It may be best for your new partner to wait for you at an agreed location away from the Court. DO NOT bring children unless you intend to use the child care service at the Court.
Whilst any support partners, family or friends may generally sit in the back of the courtroom to view the proceedings, they will not be allowed to attend or participate in any conferences.
Your demeanour is important
Therefore, if the other party or his/her lawyer or witnesses say something that you consider to be untrue or inflammatory, please refrain from calling out or posturing in reply. Please note that anything said in the courtroom may be recorded even when the Court is not actually in session