May 12th, 2017
Practitioners will be well aware of the fear client’s experience when required to give evidence at a Final Hearing. Giving evidence at court can be a scary prospect and most people will avoid it if they can. In some Children Act cases where it has not been possible for an agreement to be reached, it is however inevitable. If you are someone who is facing the possibility of giving evidence in court, then I have outlined some useful tips below that may assist you.
I firstly want to explain what giving evidence in court means. If your matter has been listed for a Final Hearing in relation to a Children Act matter (for example either you or your child’s other parent has made an application for a Child Arrangements Order and an agreement has not been reached) then it will be listed to be heard by either a Judge or a bench of Magistrates’ (usually three of them and they have the assistance of a Legal Advisor).
You are likely to be sat in private chambers. This means that only the parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives will be allowed into the room (unless specifically agreed/ordered or unless a witness is to give evidence also) and it is usually an office type environment.
Not every Final Hearing requires evidence as some cases, where there are not facts in dispute, can be dealt with on submissions. Submissions are simply oral summaries of each party’s case. Parties may agree before the hearing starts that neither of them wish to give evidence but ultimately it is up to the Judge/Magistrates.
The process of evidence means that you will likely be asked questions by your own legal representative, by the opposing sides’ legal representative and the Judge/Magistrates. It can be daunting being asked questions by the opposing side’s barrister/solicitor as they are likely to try and lead you down a path that supports their case. This can lead to frustration or fear of saying something wrong.
The following tips may help you to prepare yourself:-
1. Above all else it is imperative that you tell the truth. If you stick to this then you cannot go far wrong.
2. Take a deep breath if you need to before answering each question and try to remain calm.
3. If you did not clearly hear what you have been asked or do not understand the question asked then do not be afraid to ask for clarification.
4. When answering questions, remember that the Court’s paramount concern will be the child(ren). Make sure your answers are therefore child focussed and keep their needs at the forefront of your mind.
5. The person at the end of the hearing making the decision is the Judge or the Magistrates’. Answer your questions to them and do not be concerned if the opposing party appears to dislike you or asks you inflammatory questions. Try to remain calm – your legal team is there to interject if anything inappropriate is asked of you.
6. Raise any concerns about cross examination with your legal team before you go into court. They cannot tell you what to say or how to answer but they may be able to alleviate any other concerns or worries you may have.
If you are facing a Children Act hearing and do not have someone representing you but feel you may benefit from some advice, then do please get in touch on 01908 262680. All our solicitors here at Hawkins Family Law will be able to assist you with children matters and can offer an initial 5/10 minute chat free of charge.
Having obtained her A Levels from the Royal Latin School in Buckingham, Rebecca Stewart went on to obtain a Legal Secretary Diploma through Pitmans Training and, immediately following qualification, secured a role at Hawkins Family Law when she became interested in the family dynamic at the point of breakdown.
Subsequently in 2012 Rebecca enrolled with Cilex to become a Legal Executive and by 2015 had completed all her level 3 exams, achieving distinctions in 3 of these modules, and is now a Graduate Member of Cilex.
Rebecca is now working towards her level 6 qualifications which she will achieve in 2019 and is now able to act as a trainee Legal Executive under the supervision of the Directors of Hawkins Family Law. The team at Hawkins Family Law has been described as “a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level" by The Legal 500 (2015).
Please contact Rebecca directly here at Hawkins Family Law on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
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What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
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