If you’re going to court – be prepared
The Scouts motto of “be prepared” could be applied to any area of life, but it’s particularly relevant if you’re getting ready to attend court. Appearing in court can be a stressful situation for most people, and while your lawyer will make sure everything is prepared from an evidence point of view, there’s plenty you can do as well to prepare.
Firstly, try and read Section 60B of the Family Law Act. Legislation can often seem confusing, but Section 60B sets out the law in regards to children. For you as a parent, it’s vital to understand the law’s underlying principles in relation to children, before setting foot in a courtroom. For example, the legislation says that children “must receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential”. The Section also states that parents must “fulfil their duties and meet their responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children”.
One of the ‘objects’ of the Family Law Act is to reinforce the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty enacted by the United Nations in 1989. The treaty reminds us, “that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding”.
Post-separation, and before attending court, it’s also a good idea to look into some resources on co-parenting. You and your former partner will be co-parenting for many years, and despite the unhappiness that your separation has brought about, your focus needs to remain squarely on your child. There are a number of ways you can “upskill” on parenting once you and your ex have separated, including:
- Look into your options for completing a course or seminar before going to court. There are online courses for assisting you in co-parenting post-separation, as well as face-to-face courses and of course, there are plenty of books you can read as well.
- Consider using a communication app to temper communication between you and your former spouse.
- Consider using an online parenting calendar to help both parties keep track of weekend time, special days and holidays.
- After court you could consider using a parenting co-ordination specialist to assist in ongoing dispute resolution.
During your court appearance, make sure you are dressed appropriately and remain respectful of all parties at all times. Your legal representative will speak for you and it’s best not to speak until spoken to.
Some of the information in this article may not apply to your situation, particularly in circumstances of physical or psychological harm, abuse, neglect, or family violence.
If you have any questions about court appearances, or any aspect of family law, contact Michael Lynch Family Lawyers today on: (07) 3221 4300 or email: [email protected]