Court proceedings are a costly (financially and emotionally) and ineffective way of resolving family disputes and should be considered as a last resort after all other methods of dispute resolution have been exhausted.
Although family law proceedings may be commenced in the Local Court, most matters will be determined in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. Geographically, the Central Coast is located between the three main Family Court/Federal Circuit Court Registries: Newcastle, Parramatta and Sydney.
Going to Court
- Dress neatly. You are not expected to wear a suit but going to Court is a formal occasion and should be treated seriously.
- Court days can be long days. Many matters are listed to be heard on the same day so you may be waiting a long time before your matter is heard. Plan to be there for the majority of the day.
- Court can be a very intimidating and emotional place. A support person can be very beneficial. Choose an appropriate support person such as a calm close friend or relative. A ‘cheer squad’ will not help your cause and could inflame your dispute.
- Unless your children are required to attend Court (e.g. to meet with a Court Counsellor for a Family Report) it is preferable that they do not attend. The Family Law Courts have very limited child-minding facilities. If you wish to use these child-minding facilities you should make direct arrangements with the Court well in advance of your Court attendance date.
- Many courts have airport-style security at the entrance to prevent unauthorised items being taken into the court premises. When you enter a court building that has security checking, you will be required to place all of your belongings on the baggage scanner. You will need to go through a walk-through metal detector and may also be scanned with a hand-held metal detector. Items that cannot be brought into court premises include weapons, things that could be used as weapons or that could conceal weapons. It is an offence to bring firearms, knives and prohibited weapons into court premises. Knives and other weapons will be confiscated and handed to police. Security officers may hold other items, which are not authorised, until you leave the premises. These include: tools, such as screwdrivers, spanners and hammers, scissors and other sharp items, motorcycle helmets, syringes, which you do not have medical authority to use, etc. These items will be returned to you when you leave the court premises. People attending court are also not permitted to take alcohol onto court premises.
- Cameras are not allowed in the Court Building and will be retained by security staff if brought into the Court Building.
- If you have any personal security concerns, please advise us well before your Court attendance date and appropriate arrangements will be made with the Court staff to ensure your safety.
- Where possible, we will contact you before your Court appearance to explain which courtroom your case will be heard in. Sometimes this is not possible because Court lists are not always available. In these circumstances we will make alternative arrangements with you so that you can easily find us and your Courtroom. The Court Registry staff is also there to assist you.
- It is advisable to arrange all-day parking of your vehicle on your Court days. Going to Court can be very stressful. You do not need to be distracted, worrying about the possibility of incurring a traffic infringement notice on top of it all.