Taking family court hearings in your stride – some helpful hints from our experienced solicitor Sarah


Our James Legal family lawyers are used to attending at court on a regular basis to represent our clients in relation to children, divorce and financial matters. We are familiar with the court environment and etiquette and have built up a sound knowledge base as to the local judges’ particular likes and dislikes in terms of procedure. However, we do understand that our clients are not used to appearing at court and often feel anxious about doing so.

With this in mind, solicitor Sarah Wasling, from our family law team, has a few tips to help you prepare for family court hearings.

Look up the location

Ensure that you know where the court is and how long it will take you to travel there. If you need to park your car, ensure that you have allowed more than enough time for your hearing (which may take much longer than the time estimated on the Notice of Hearing). A judge will not be happy if you arrive late or have to leave to top up your parking meter half-way through.

Impressions matter

Do your best to make a good first impression. Arrive early, dress smartly, be polite to court staff and present yourself as calm and reasonable.

Meet the usher

On arrival at the court, book in with the court usher so that they know you are there and can find you when it is time for you to see the judge. If you need to go outside for a cigarette or leave the waiting room for any other reason, let the usher know.

Quiet, please!

Don’t just silence your mobile phone, be sure to turn it off. Nothing irritates a judge more than being interrupted by the sound of your favourite ring tone or the buzzing of a phone switched to silent.

Don’t attempt to use your phone or any other device to record the hearing. The hearing will be recorded by the court so if necessary this recording can be referred to where there are disputes as to what was and was not said.

Keep calm

While in court you may hear your opponent or their solicitor say something that you do not agree with. Resist the temptation to react – don’t pull faces, tut, sigh or interrupt. You or your solicitor will have your turn to speak so just be patient. When your turn comes, don’t shout and speak slowly and clearly.

You might feel nervous but speaking in a calm and deliberate voice will make you feel and appear more confident. If you are asked a question answer it but keep to the point and don’t try to provide the court with every detail of your matter from start to finish. Know when to stop talking, and try to understand when you are ahead.

Never, ever use the phrase ‘with all due respect’. This phrase is almost always followed by some comment that will cause offence!

Professional advice

If you’re thinking of relying on information sourced via the internet as to what to do/say in court in your particular case, think again. Instead, seek some proper legal advice before the hearing and consider instructing a solicitor to represent you. The solicitor will have the legal training and practical experience to represent you in the best possible way.

To contact the James Legal family law team and find out how we could help you, ring 01482 225566 or email info@jameslegal.co.uk

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