What Happens If I Don’t Attend Family Court?

Family court is involved with cases that cover families and children. They can help to resolve family law disputes relating to divorce, adoption, and the arrangements for children.  If you need to go to a family court, this can be a daunting and emotional process, but it is an important one, and you need to attend and engage. Not only could there be consequences to not attending, but it also makes you look bad which could also go against you in the hearing.

Importance of First Impressions? 

First impressions are important in many situations, and when it comes to the family court this is no different. Ensuring that you turn up, turn up on time, are polite, well-behaved, and respectful, says a lot about who you are to the court. If the Court is making decisions about the arrangements for your child, showing that you care about how you are perceived will give the court a more favourable view of your ability to bring up children properly. 

If, for example, you turn up late or not at all, the impression that you are giving the court about how serious you are taking your parental duties – or indeed, the whole case – can clearly be called into question.

First impressions count in law. You are being judged by people who don’t really know you and can only go by the evidence that is in front of them and this includes their first impressions of you.

Do you need to attend at Court?

Sometimes cases can also be heard through the use of solicitors who represent each party, without the need of you going to court. Of course, this depends on the specific case and if there is any input needed from you in the courtroom.  If you have a solicitor, it is best to speak with them beforehand to find out. 

If you are ill and unable to attend court, it is important that you get a letter or report as early as possible from either the hospital or your GP. The letter must clearly state that you are too unwell to attend court.

As of March 2020, cases can be adjourned if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus, are self-isolating, or have responsibilities of childcare related to coronavirus. If this is the case, the court will decide whether the case can be heard via video link or audio, and potentially the application fee could be waived.

What If I Am Unable to Attend Court and I Want to Adjourn?

If there is a reason why you are unable to attend court it is important that you advise the court in writing as early as you can. You might be excused if the case allows for it.

There are not, however, many reasons that a court will accept as a reason for not attending. One of the main reasons is if you have a pre-booked and paid holiday, but you will need to have documentation to support this.

If there is a reason why you wish to adjourn the court hearing date, the first step is to contact the other party’s solicitor to ask them if it is acceptable to them that the court hearing date is adjourned, giving the reasons why you are asking for it. If the other party agrees, both of you can write to the court – or you can write together. It is important that you get in contact with them as early as you can so that it can be arranged for another date when you are available.

It is important to note, however, that the judge still has discretion over whether the hearing goes ahead on that date and can decline the application for an adjournment if they wish to.  In those circumstances you should assume that the hearing is to go ahead as planned. 


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