Going to Court: A Guide
Whilst the majority of family law matters do not require the parties involved to attend Court, if you find that you do have to attend we have prepared some useful information and tips on what to expect on the day.
The following Guide provides the answers to some of the most common questions we receive from clients who have to go to Court. If you need further information or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact your family lawyer.
The Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court are both located in the Commonwealth Law Courts Building, on the corner of George and O’Connell Streets, Parramatta.
The building is directly opposite Parramatta Park and relatively easy to find. Parramatta is accessible by public transport (train or bus) and there are various places to park around the Courts. If possible, you should try to find all-day parking so that you are not worried about your car in case there are delays.
Parking is available in:
- Parramatta Park (also has 1-2 hour parking)
- Hunter Street (opposite the RSL)
- Parramatta Pool (off O’Connell Street)
- Horwood Place (off George Street)
- Erby Place (off George Street)
What do I do when I get to Court?
The Court is generally very busy so it is best to arrive at least 20-30 minutes prior to your scheduled hearing time. When you first enter the building you will need to move through an airport-style security check point where your bags will be x-rayed and a security guard will scan you with a metal detector. Please ensure that you do not have any pressurised spray cans or sharp objects with you as these will be confiscated at security.
Once inside you will need to find which Courtroom your hearing is listed for and meet your lawyer.
Your family lawyer will have given you the details and directions of where to go before the day, but if you are in doubt, check the list on the boards as you enter the building. The Court list will give you the Courtroom number where your matter is listed and your lawyer will usually meet you outside the Courtroom. If you have concerns about your safety in the Court precinct, the Court can usually arrange a safety plan for you. If this is necessary, you should contact your lawyer prior to the Court date and discuss this further.
It can be a good idea to bring a support person with you or something to do, such as a book or magazine to read, because you may have to wait around for periods of time. It is best that you keep your support people to a minimum and we generally suggest that you bring one or two support people at most. In some circumstances there may be occasions during the day when your lawyer needs to speak to you without your support persons being present. If your support person comes into the Courtroom with you it is important that they are aware that their behaviour may impact negatively upon you if they behave in an inappropriate manner.
Can I bring my child/children to Court with me?
Generally speaking, you should not bring children with you to Court unless their attendance is necessary or the Court has ordered that they be brought along (for example if they are to be interviewed).
Please try to make alternative arrangements for your children on the day. The Court does have a limited child-minding service but this is often booked out. If you think you may need to use the service, contact the Court as early as possible on phone: 02 9893 5555 to see if they have availability.
It is wise to make alternative arrangements for the drop-off and collection of school aged children just in case you are in Court all day and cannot make it back to collect them from school.
Are there any rules for how to dress in Court?
There are no set rules for how to dress when you attend Court, but you should remember that it is a formal place and dress accordingly. Whilst you don’t have to wear a suit, we do recommend that you dress neatly and in a manner that shows you are taking the Court and the process seriously. Your hair should be clean and tidy and you should ensure that you wear appropriate footwear (no Ugg boots or thongs).
You should also remember to remove any hats or sunglasses before you enter the Court, and to turn off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices. Any support persons should also ensure that they are dressed appropriately for Court.
How should I address the Judge/Federal Magistrate?
Depending on the Court in which you are appearing, the official hearing your case will either be a judge, a judicial registrar, a federal magistrate or a registrar. When speaking to them, you need to call the judge, judicial registrar and federal magistrate “Your Honour” or refer to the registrar as “Registrar”.
If you are represented by a lawyer, you may not be required to address the Court directly and any questions which the Court may have for you will often be addressed through your lawyer. If this is the case, you should ensure that you provide clear instructions to your lawyer if they seek information from you whilst in Court.
It is important to remember that your behaviour in Court is always being considered by the judicial officer. You should ensure that you never react to anything that the judicial officer or other solicitors may say about you or your former partner.
Importantly, your lawyer will be with you on the day to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have
For more information on going to Court, contact the Lamrocks Family Law Team now.
Call 02 4731 5688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org