Family or Federal Circuit Court
Going to Court can often be a scary and daunting experience, especially on the first occasion.
Here are some helpful tips and things to keep in mind to try and make your trip to Court as stress free as can be.
Whether your matter is listed at the Sydney or Parramatta Registry, it’s important to make sure that you allow plenty of travel time. If you matter is listed at 9:30 am, aim to be at Court at 9am to allow yourself to familiarise yourself with the Court and to get through security.
It would also be helpful to look up public transport times or the closest parking areas to the Court. If you are driving it is a good idea to try and park in all day parking area to avoid the stress and hassle of having to move your car.
Once in the Court, you can ask security to direct you to the Court lists where you can look up your matter and be directed to which Court room your matter will be heard. Most of the Court rooms are located on level 2.
The Court takes security very seriously. When you arrive at the court you will go through security similar to that of airports. Be prepared to take off belts, watches and have your bag go through security screening. Keep in mind that metal, glass, aerosols sprays, perfumes, scissors, nail clippers, and weapons are not permitted to be taken into Court.
Ensure that you take time to consider and dress appropriately for your matter at court. We often advise clients to dress as they would for a job interview, neatly and presentable. Do not wear sunglasses on your head, or hats and be mindful of your expressions when the judge is talking as he/she can see you and the court room is not the time or place to display your emotions.
The Court room
Remember that manners matter. Before entering the court room ensure that your phone is preferably off, or on silent.
When entering the Court ensure that upon entering and existing the court room you give a bow as a sign of respect. Once in the court room if your matter has not been called find an available seat and wait patiently for your matter to be called.
Once your matter has been called, walk forward, and either sit behind your legal representative or approach the bar table if you are representing yourself. Keep in mind that if you are the applicant (i.e. the one who started the proceedings) you sit on the left hand side, and if you are the respondent you will sit on the right.
If an Independent Children’s Lawyer is appointed they will sit in the middle of the bar table.
If you are representing yourself, stand when addressing the Judge unless they advise you otherwise.
It is preferable that you do not bring children with you to Court unless directed otherwise. Children will not be permitted in the Court and ensure that you have made appropriate arrangements for when you attend Court.
The court works on a docket system so once an application is filed you will normally have the same judge throughout the proceedings unless the matter is transferred, for example from the Federal Circuit Court to the Family Court (both Courts are in the same building).
We suggest that you familiarize yourself with the way that your Judge deals with matters as they have their own different styles. The courts are open to the public and the court list is published on the website so you can find out which judge is sitting that week.
There are legal aid duty lawyers who are part of the EIU (Early Intervention Unit) as well as FASS (Family Advocacy and Support Service) who can refer you to various services that assist with housing, domestic violence, counselling and parenting courses. If you do not have a lawyer, you can complete a duty form and see one of the duty lawyers on the day.