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Top 10 things to know before attending a family court hearing

Things we think you should know before attending a hearing

Divorce, living together and family issues

Preparing to attend a family court hearing can be stressful but family law solicitors can guide and support you through the process. Here are ten things we think you should know before you attend a hearing.

 1.             Find out from your solicitor where and how the hearing will take place

Is the hearing listed to be in person at the court building or via a remote link? If the hearing is to take place at court, check with your solicitor what time the hearing is listed to start, and at what time you are expected to arrive prior to the hearing (it is best to arrive an hour before the hearing start time).

If the hearing is remote, you should be sent a link directly to your email. If you have any issues joining the link remotely you should call your solicitor as soon as possible to let them know. You may prefer to attend the hearing remotely from your solicitor’s office, so you must discuss this as soon as possible to arrange this with your solicitor. If you attend from home via the remote link, you must be in a private place and have complete privacy as family proceedings are confidential.

 2.             Make appropriate childcare arrangements in advance of the hearing

Your solicitor should be able to advise you on the estimated length of the hearing so that you can arrange appropriate supervision for your children. It is advised that you do not bring children to the court building if this can be avoided.

 3.             Plan what to wear in advance to ensure that you have something appropriate

There is no written rule regarding the dress wear at court, but your solicitor will probably advise that you attend in formal wear to ensure you make the best first impression possible. 

4.              Check with your solicitor who else will be attending

There will be several people you should expect to see at court: 

·        Other parties in the proceedings

·        The solicitors (your solicitor and the other parties’ solicitors)

·        The judge, or magistrates

·        The clerk (who assists the judge)

·        The usher (who will greet you outside the court room)


5.              It is important that you arrive at the court building on time

Generally, it is advised that you arrive one hour before the hearing starts unless your solicitor tells you otherwise. This gives you the opportunity to get through security, find your court room and speak with your solicitor before the hearing begins. It is best to arrive early so you do not feel rushed and to protect against any unplanned delays.


6.              Book in when you arrive

Once you arrive at court, you need to book in with the court usher who should be located near the court room. You will need to provide your name and the court case name. This will ensure that your attendance is noted.


7.              Make sure your phone is turned off

It is particularly important that your phone is kept on silent or turned off during the hearing to avoid any disruptions. You must not record any part of the court hearing. If you do, you could be held in contempt of the court and sanctioned. The court will be responsible for recording the hearing.


8.              Your solicitor will represent you during the hearing

This means they will speak to the judge on your behalf. Although you won’t be speaking to the judge directly, unless you have to give evidence, you will still be present in the court room and so you must act respectfully and must not interrupt the hearing.


9.              If you are disabled, the court will be accessible

Don’t worry if you require any specific adjustments because of a disability, just ensure that your solicitor is aware of them, so that they can ensure these adjustments are made in time for your arrival. The courts are accessible for people with disabilities, so your solicitor will just need to inform the court.

10.          Make sure you eat and drink before the hearing

Finally, attending court can be stressful so make sure you have had something to eat and drink before the hearing. It might also help to bring someone along to offer you support, but they cannot enter the court room with you.


If you would like legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor, you can search for free and without providing any of your personal details on our website at You might also be interested in other guidance around topics of family law such as No fault divorce – the changes explained or Could the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme help you?