December 8, 2023

You have a first appearance scheduled in either the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court because you have initiated procedures involving parental responsibility and/or marital property division. For what, exactly, are you preparing yourself?

Let’s just say it won’t be on the level of an episode of Suits. In these scenes, Harvey Spector makes a passionate argument before the judge, who makes a snap decision. A first court date is not the time for this to occur.

In this article, our professional family lawyers explain all you need to know about family law services. We believe that with adequate knowledge about family law matters, such as applicable family and relationship law, how to get the best and accredited family law specialist or independent legal advice, property settlement, and general family law issue, you will be well positioned to make good choices with your family law proceedings.

Many anticipate that their first court hearing will be their opportunity to explain their whole case to the judge and get a ruling on the spot. It’s likely that your case will be one of several on the Judge’s plate, and that the Judge will have a full plate.

Judge will have a full plate

Only if you have requested Interim Orders in your Application or Response will a Judge make a decision. The judge might be able to hear the interim application that day if there is time available.

The initial court date is typically simply for formalities. A definition, please. You or your attorney will have the opportunity to explain the situation to the judge and the basis for initiating legal action at the initial court hearing.

The judge will be interested in your recommendations for moving forwards with the case. The case will thereafter proceed according to the Judge’s procedural orders.

Prepare Thoroughly Before Your Initial Court Date

Get your stuff together as a first step. Don’t forget to provide any paperwork your best family lawyer may need. If you don’t already have it, bring it along. Ensure that your legal counsel has all they require to represent you.

Initial Court

Prior to your first court date, it’s a good idea to pay the courthouse a visit so you’re familiar with the layout and can find parking easily. Practice driving there at the same time of day as your first court appearance to get a feel for the traffic.

To get to the courtroom where your case will be heard, please enter the courthouse. Take note of the attire and demeanour of others around you. As so, you will be better prepared for your court day.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your first court appearance, and you can relax if you get stuck in traffic or take the wrong exit. Related: Who Truly Gains from Compulsory Superannuation?

Outfit Considerations for Your Initial Court Date

It is crucial that you show up to court when required to do so. Prior to your court date, you may have visited the courtroom to get a feel for the typical attire of the attendees. Get ready for a job interview by dressing the part. Try to maintain a dignified, understated appearance without appearing too stuffy. Don’t be a distraction in court by wearing ill-fitting clothing.

Schedule everything in your day around your first court appearance.

Don’t plan anything important just before your court date, and factor in some buffer time thereafter. There is a risk that your court appearance will go on for longer than you anticipate because of the potential for extended delays due to waiting for the proceedings to begin.

To avoid being late to work or disciplined by your employer, it’s best to either book some time off or explain that you have a court hearing that day. Because of this, you’ll be able to provide your undivided attention to your case in court.

Your First Court Appearance: What to Expect in the Courtroom

You presumably discussed what to anticipate at your first court appearance during your initial consultation with our family lawyer. To find your attorney once you’ve arrived at court, just look around. A visit to the court clerk or security guard is also required.

The helpful employees at the courts can point you in the right direction and explain the process in broad terms. In addition to not being able to provide you with legal counsel or predict what will happen with your case, court personnel are also prohibited from allowing you to speak with a judge outside of a scheduled court appearance.

At the appointed time, the bailiff will notify the judge’s arrival. Keep standing until the judge directs you to take your seats.

Do not shout at the judge if it is not your turn to speak. While the judge is presiding over another case, you should not call undue attention to yourself.

Procedure for When Your Name Is Called

Never lose your cool. Even though nerves are natural, you should keep your cool. If you and your lawyer choose to address the judge, you will be shown to the bench by a court official when your case is called. In a legal dispute, you should let your attorney do most of the talking.

At your initial court appearance, the court will inform you of the specific allegations against you and your constitutional rights, and you will enter your plea.

At your initial court appearance, you will be informed of the allegations against you and informed of your rights under the law. You will also have the opportunity to enter a plea. To provide time for more investigation, prospective plea negotiations, or trial preparation, most people who have retained a family lawyer plead not guilty.

A judge may enquire as to whether you intend to enter a plea if you have been informed of and understand your legal rights, whether you are willingly relinquishing any of your rights, or whether you wish to make a statement. Please be as explicit as possible if you must talk. Talk clearly and loudly into the microphone; no mumbling or covering your lips allowed.

If the judge poses a straight question, respond coolly and confidently. Keep your mouth shut unless spoken to. In most cases, “Yes, your honour,” “No, your honour,” or “Not guilty, your honour” will suffice as answers.

You’ll have your family lawyer right there with you. 

Your plea will be requested once the judge has read the charges to you. There are two possible pleas: 1) Not Guilty, which implies you reject the allegations and seek a trial, or 2) Guilty, which means you confess all the counts against you and are ready to be sentenced.

You can avoid admitting guilt by pleading “No Contest,” in which case the court will still find you guilty and punish you as if you had pleaded guilty.

If this is your first time in court, you should expect to spend very little time speaking with the judge and should avoid getting into any sort of disagreement with them or anybody else in the courtroom.

The judge may also decide whether or not to release you on bond, set restrictions for your release, and schedule further court dates for your case at this time, such as dates to return to court to discuss the status of the case or set the case for trial.

Remember to bow to the Judge when you enter the courtroom and to remain standing while the Judge walks in and out. Put down that cell phone and concentrate. Don’t interrupt the opposing side’s attorney, even if you disagree with what he or she is saying, and don’t snack or sip throughout the proceedings.

Both the Federal Court and the Family Court of Australia are familiar territory for our hardworking team of family attorneys. Reach out to our staff if you need help.

Finally

For all you need to know about the Australian family law system, if you are going through any family law matter, understanding the family law act of the family court system, our experienced family lawyers at Chamberlains can help you navigate the process with clarity so that you can know what to do at the right time and how best to do it.

Our family law firm would make sure you wouldn’t have to bother about the family law court, spousal maintenance issues, child support assessment or child support payments, or the actions of other law firms against you, our family law team will help you through it all.