Going to Court for your family law/divorce proceedings can be a daunting experience for most people. Here are a few practical guidelines to help you through:
Where is the Family Court/Divorce Court in Melbourne?
There are two Courts that deal with family law matters. The Family Court of Australia and The Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The Melbourne Registries are both located at 305 William Street Melbourne, on the corner of William and La Trobe Street.
The closest station is Flagstaff Station. There are a range of paid parking options close to the Family Law Courts.
Most of the Divorce hearings will take place in the Federal Circuit Court at this address.
What do I do when I get to Court?
If you are appearing on your own then you will need to find out which Court your case will be heard on that day. It will be important to get there on time and most cases start between 9:30AM and 10:00AM so leave plenty of time in the morning for travel arrangements.
When you get to Court there are the daily lists of cases where you can check which Court you are in. You need to go to the Court before your matter starts and tell the Court officer at the front of the room your name and whether you are the applicant or respondent.
What happens when the Judge/Registrar comes down?
It will depend on what type of case you have before the Court.
If you have a Divorce hearing then the Registrar will hear all the represented parties first (those who have a solicitor) and then will proceed through the list of unrepresented people. The Registrar will look at all the documents that you have filed and if you have children, you may be asked some short questions about them.
If you have an interim hearing (not a Final hearing) in Court on children or property matters then it will usually be in a list with 10 or more matters on the day. The Judge will usually want people to “stand matters down” which means that you get some time on the day to talk to the other side to see if you can resolve some/all of the matters.
If you can’t resolve matters then the Judge can make Orders to progress the case (such as ordering valuations or Family Reports).
If you have a Final Hearing then it is likely that you may be the only case or there may be one or two other cases. The Judge will still want to know if you need time to negotiate or whether you are ready to “proceed” – that is the case gets started.
What to bring to Court
Make sure you bring all the Court documents that you have filed. Sometimes there is a delay in getting documents onto the Court file and so it is always safer to have an extra copy in case the Judge needs to see it.
Sometimes Court can be a long day so make sure you have arranged appropriate childcare and you may want to bring a support person as well (although they will not be able to speak on your behalf).
If there is any other material you want the Judge/Registrar or other side to see on the day then you need to get leave from the Court before it will be accepted.
How do I speak to the Judge/Registrar?
Bow every time the Judge comes in and out of the room.
If the other side is speaking to the Judge then you need to sit down at the “bar table” – this is the table in the middle of the room and you need to go and sit there when your case is being heard.
If the Judge is speaking to you – stand up and listen to the questions and respond politely – there is no point getting upset or angry with the Judge or the other side and this will not help your case.
You need to sit down when the other side is talking to the Judge and they are standing up.
Legal Rights Representation/Family Court Legal Advice
We hope that this has given a few practical hints about going to Court.
At Carew Counsel Solicitors we pride ourselves on guiding clients through every step of the way of the legal process so you do not feel lost or overwhelmed by the process.
If you would like further advice on Family Court Representation or your legal rights, please call one of our experienced solicitors today on (03) 9670 5711.