First day of trial before the judge (held in court)
What further documents do you prepare prior to the first day of trial before the judge?
At least 28 days before the first day of trial each party must:
Parties may also be required to lodge further information about the case at least two days before the trial. The form Case Information may help you to prepare this information.
Where your case is conducted as a less adversarial trial some of the technical rules of evidence will not be applied. However, the judge may decide that rules of evidence should apply to particular issues for special reasons. All the evidence that is given to the judge, both verbally and in writing (in an affidavit), will be admissible and it will be for the judge to decide what weight it might be given. This allows the trial to be less formal and less complicated than court trials usually are. If you need more detail about what rules of evidence are affected you should seek legal advice – see also section 69ZT of the Family Law Act 1975.
The family report
In cases involving children, the court may order a family report to assist the judge at the trial.
Before you attend the first day before the judge, you should consider carefully how a family report could help the court to make a decision. You should read Section 62G of the Family Law Act 1975.
If a Family Report is ordered, it will be written by a court family consultant or other court appointed expert, subject to any specific directions from the judge. It will be used as evidence in the trial.
The family consultant (or court appointed expert):
- will interview all parties, their children and anyone else who may be involved substantially in the lives of the children, and
- may make recommendations about where the children should live, what arrangements there should be about the children spending time with a parent, including how much time, and about other matters concerning parental responsibilities.
You will receive a copy of the family report before the final stage of trial. You will have a right at the final stage of trial to cross-examine the family consultant (or court appointed expert) about the family report. If you wish to do this, you must inform the Principal Child Dispute Services in writing at least 14 days before the family consultant (or court appointed expert) is to appear in court.
What happens at the first day of trial?
The judge begins to determine the issues in dispute and decides what evidence is required including any expert reports (see family reports above).
You should read the brochure Less Adversarial Trials for more details about what happens at a less adversarial trial.
Continuation of the trial
The judge may conduct one or more continuation of trial hearings. The judge may decide these will not be conducted in court but in chambers and/or by telephone.
The judge may consider expert reports and finish determining the issues in dispute and deciding what evidence is required to decide those issues.
The registrar may deal with aspects of the preparation for the trial including:
- Review compliance with orders
The parties must obtain expert reports and prepare their evidence as ordered by the court.
Final stage of trial before the judge (held in court)
The judge makes a decision about your case (makes orders) and may refer you to a post orders review and referral meeting with a family consultant.
What happens at a post orders review and referral meeting?
For more information about this meeting which is conducted by a family consultant you should read the brochure Child Responsive Program.