Family courts

Most family law cases are heard in the Family Court. Some special cases are heard in the Family Division of the High Court.

The Family Division of the High Court also hears some appeals from the Family Court.

Preparing for a court appearance

You should get a letter with the date, time and court location that you are due to attend. The information on this letter is important. You should read it before you go to court.

The lawyers working on the case you are appearing in will explain what you should expect to happen on the day. They should explain what, if anything, you should prepare for in advance.

For general information on preparing to attend court see our I’m due in court page.

What to expect in the Family courts

Judges in the Family courts don’t normally wear judicial robes. The proceedings are often less formal than those in the Criminal Court. This is intentional, and is done to reduce the distress of the parties involved.

Parties in the Family courts are sometimes represented by lawyers. Where legal aid is not available and parties can’t afford to pay for their own representation, they may represent themselves in court. If one party has legal representation and the other does not, the lawyer involved will owe duties to both parties. This is to ensure fairness.

Hearings are usually held in private but the press may attend. The judge can decide to exclude the press.

Support available at the civil courts

Court staff can help you with any questions you may have on the day. They can’t give legal advice or talk about the specific facts of your case. But they will be able to help direct you.

If you can’t understand English very well you should tell the court as soon as you can. Preferably ahead of the date of your court appearance. The court can arrange for an interpreter or other support to help you.

Useful terms 

Some useful terms: