Ipswich - 01473 213311
Colchester - 01206 584584
Felixstowe - 01394 834557


What happens in the family court?

Family Court Cases

What happens in the family court?

Family Court Cases

The family court of England and Wales make decisions on family matters when either separating parents are unable to agree on the arrangements for their children or a divorcing couple (for the purposes of this article this includes those dissolving a civil partnership) cannot agree on how marital assets should be divided between them. The job of the family court is to listen to both sides of an argument and make a fair decision.

Family cases are handled either by judges or magistrates (volunteers who hear cases in courts in their community). The type of case dictates who you will be put in front of. Magistrates tend to deal with child arrangement issues whereas judges normally handle financial cases.

As matters in this area can be very emotionally charged, the family court encourages parties to use alternative forms of dispute resolution instead of going to court, such as family mediation and arbitration, especially in cases that involve children.

It has also always been the case that any proceedings being heard in the family court do not follow the same formalities as those heard in say a criminal court for example.  There is no dock for the parties sit in, no witness stands and no robes or wigs for judges and barristers/solicitors presenting their client’s case. The family court distinguished itself from other types of court largely because of the nature of the work they do. Separated couples trying to negotiate a financial settlement or parents trying to sort out the arrangements for their children are anxious and stressed enough without the added formalities of seeing a judge in wigs and robes. The family court has always tried to appear and provide a setting where parties feel they are sitting more round a negotiation table than in a formal court room.

However, given a rise in violent behaviour by some users of the family court, there is now a new pilot scheme running in The Central Family Court in London to see if bringing back more formality will help. Judges sitting at Central Family Court have begun to wear robes during proceedings, but will still not wear wigs, and practitioners will not be expected to wear robes. The pilot will run for an initial three-month period till the end of August. It might be the case that robing becomes the new norm and all family court judges will be expected to wear robes in proceedings. We shall wait to see what the outcome of the pilot is.

Family court cases are held privately meaning that the only people who can go into the court room are the parties directly involved in the case and their legal team. Children should not attend court at all unless they have been directed to because they are, for example, required to have a meeting with the judge.

As solicitors, we attempt to keep every family case we are involved in away from court and prefer to exhaust all possible forms of non-court dispute resolution first. However, if court proceedings have already begun, we can help navigate the process and aim to achieve a swift resolution.

Contact our experienced family law team today to find out more about our initial consultation process and how we can help with your case at Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich at [email protected] or telephone 01473 213311Kerseys Solicitors in Felixstowe at [email protected] on 01394 834557 or Kerseys Solicitors in Colchester at [email protected] on 01206 584584.

Call Me Back
close slider