During a final hearing in family law, the judge makes the final determination of an ongoing matter or case. A final hearing in the family court system is different from the interim hearing.
A judge makes final orders at the final hearing in family law, whereas they make interim orders during interim hearing. You may have also heard the term ‘trial’ being used. Many also use ‘trial’ when talking about a Family Court of Australia hearing.
In this article, we will explore the topic of final hearing family law in detail. If you are dealing with any family law case, it is important to understand the meaning of final hearing in family law.
Before we dig deeper into the topic of final hearing, we will also look at other types of hearings in family law.
Other Types of Hearings in Family Law System
First Court Event
The first court event is a type of hearing where the Judicial Registrar i.e. the Judicial Officer who conducts the hearing, hears from both parties about steps that need to be taken to prepare for the matter.
During this court event, the Registrar makes orders for gathering of all the evidence, valuations etc. The Judicial Registrar may also make interim or final orders if required.
This is also similar to a directions hearing. This occurs in case there is a need to make orders or directions (like pre-action procedures) about the case and how it is to proceed.
During an interim hearing, the Judge makes a decision on an interim basis. This means that these orders are effective only until the Judge makes final orders. During this, like with most other court cases, the Judge will hear the submissions of each party. They will listen to all interim issues of the dispute that the parties are facing.
During an interim hearing, Judges may consider whether the proceedings before the Court should be dismissed. Moreover, Judges may consider matters such as whether a party must:
- Sell a property,
- Vacate a property,
- Complete a drug testing,
- Restrained from withdrawing funds from a particular bank account,
Dispute Resolution Conference
If need be, sometimes a Family Consultant may be required to attend these dispute resolution conferences or dispute resolution event. It can also include a Court Child Expert. These conferences usually occur for parenting proceedings. If the matter involves family or domestic violence, then the parties may also go for the conference separately.
Trial Management Hearing
If a Judge lists a case for a final hearing in family law, they may hold a trial management hearing prior to the final one. During this, they make further directions for the final hearing and make sure that the hearing is ready to proceed.
What Does Final Hearing Family Law Include?
Typically, a final hearing family law will include:
- An opening address. During this the parties talk to the Judge and tell the Judge about their case.
- Giving written or oral evidence. This includes cross-examination and includes parties and witnesses.
- Argument. In this stage, the party makes submissions to the Court about the evidence and law.
During the hearing, each party may also wish to call upon witnesses to be cross examined. Generally, a witness provides an affidavit for evidence. In some cases, they may need to appear in court so that the opposing party can cross-examine them on their evidence. Even an Independent Children’s Lawyer may be involved to represent the interests of any child involved.
Many often wonder about the duration of a final hearing in family law. Generally, it varies from case to case and it can last for one day to several days. The duration depends entirely on the facts of the case. It depends on issues of the family law dispute, and also the complexity of the matter.
For example, parenting issues that involve family or domestic violence may involve a lot of facts and evidence from various parties.
Moreover, because family courts give due consideration to the children having access to both parties, they cannot make a decision lightly. So such a final hearing may take longer than other more straightforward cases.
Sometimes, parties may be facing disputes on property settlement. Even such trials can take a while to settle because of the level of documentation and evidence required for the Magistrate or Judge to make a fair and just decision.
How to Prepare for the Final Hearing?
Before you attend a trial, there is also a readiness hearing. The purpose of this compliance and readiness hearing is to ensure that the matter is ready for trial. This is generally applicable when the dispute resolution is not successful.
There are many steps to take into account if you are dealing with a family law matter. This includes steps like cross-examination and giving of evidence. The judge makes final decisions on the day of the final hearing in family law.
As a first step, it is necessary for you to understand the timeline and scope of your matter. In other words, you need to stay on top of your trial directions. It is important to have lawyers who can provide advice to you when you are dealing with the trial directions.
Secondly, it is very important to gather important documents. These documents include affidavits, minutes of orders, financial sheets (depending on the type of matter) and other documents. Speak with a lawyer to understand which all documents are relevant for your particular matter.
Judges or Magistrates adjudicate these final hearings or trials. The judges give the decision of final hearing either on the same day or within 3 months of the final hearing.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice from Family Lawyers
Family lawyers are experts who can assist you with final hearing in your Federal Circuit and Family Court process.
At JB Solicitors, our team of experienced family law solicitors are dedicated and well-equipped to deal with any family law case including parenting or property matters.
Many often also wonder about mediation and dispute resolution versus court proceedings. Seek legal advice to get an overview about the difference between the two or if you wish to simply learn more about mediation versus court proceedings.
Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in dealing with complicated matters and exceptional circumstances that require parties to attend court proceedings if you seek interim orders or final orders/final decision.
We offer market-leading family law advice and court representation for all types of hearings such as for financial settlement, or parenting matters like custody battles or child abuse. To give you an overview of the legal costs involved, we also have fee brochures on our website.
Contact our team for more enquiries.