Tips for your court hearing
This information is for people who are representing themselves in court. It covers some of the things you can do to prepare for your court hearing, as well as what you should and should not do inside the courtroom.
Be prepared and ready to present your case on the day of your court hearing. Do as much research as possible and gather all the information for your case.
Make sure you have all your documents clearly organised and mark the documents that have already been filed with the Court. Bring a note pad and pen with you too.
Some people find it helpful to sit in a courtroom before the hearing if they have never been in a court before. Most court hearings are heard in open court so you can do this any time.
What to wear
There are no rules about what to wear in court. However, the Court is a formal place and you should dress accordingly.
Children at court
Generally, courts are not appropriate places for children. Please make other arrangements for your child’s care when you come to court. If your child needs to attend court to speak to a family consultant or judicial officer, check with court staff before your court appointment whether any child-care arrangements need to be made for the day.
If you have any concerns about your safety while attending court, please call 1300 352 000 before your Court appointment or trial. Options for your safety at court will be discussed and arrangements put in place.
By law you must inform a court if there is an existing or pending family violence order involving yourself or your children. More detail is in the brochure Safety at Court and the Family Violence section of this website.
Arriving at court
You should arrive at least 30 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to find the courtroom. If you have any problems finding the right courtroom, ask court staff.
You can bring a family member or friend (who is over the age of 18) to sit with you and provide support. Unless approved by the judicial officer, your support person cannot sit with you at the bar table and cannot speak on your behalf.
Recording devices are not permitted in courtrooms without permission of the judicial officer.
Before entering the courtroom you should:
- turn off electronic equipment, including mobile phones, and
- remove hats or sunglasses, unless for medical or religious reasons.
Do not bring any food or drink into the courtroom.
Inside the courtroom
Before you enter the courtroom, give your name to the person assisting the judicial officer (either the court officer or associate). Let them know that you are representing yourself. If you are unsure, ask them where you need to sit.
You may have to wait for your case to be called as there may be a number of cases listed on the same day. If you are waiting for your case to be called, you should avoid talking or making any distracting noises in the courtroom.
You must stand each time the Court commences or adjourns. The court officer or associate will announce this by saying ‘All rise’ or ‘Please stand’.
When your case is called, stand up and the court officer or associate will direct you to the bar table.
Speaking to the judicial officer
In the Family Court, the judicial officer hearing your case will either be a judge, judicial registrar or registrar. In the Federal Circuit Court, the judicial officer will be a judge and, for divorce hearings, a registrar. The court officer or associate can tell you who is hearing your case. You should address a judge as ‘Your Honour’ and a registrar as ‘Registrar’.
You should seek legal advice before deciding what to do. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and explain how the law applies to your case. You can seek legal advice from a legal aid office, community legal centre or private law firm. Court staff can help you with questions about court forms and the court process, but cannot give you legal advice.
For more information see the fact sheet, Going to Court – tips for your court hearing.