What will it be like?
If you get the opportunity, visit the court in advance so that you know what it looks like and you have the opportunity to start thinking about what it might be like on the day of your hearing. While it seems like a strange thing to do, it can make you feel much more comfortable and help to manage your expectations. For example, the space to be able to talk to your solicitor privately might be very limited and this can be useful to know in advance in order to prepare accordingly. If you are not able to visit the court in person, use the HM Court and Tribunal Service's online court finder
: quite often there is a picture of the building and even having a look at this will enable you to learn a little bit more about what to expect.
Depending on the nature of the hearing you are attending, you can expect a lot of waiting time at court. During this time your solicitor and/or barrister will spend some time discussing with your partner's counsel some of the key issues that need to be resolved, to see if any common ground can be reached. This might include discussing the issues in the case or the practical steps (called directions) which they want to ask the court to order. The purpose of this is to try to retain as much control over the process as possible and to use the time at court as efficiently as possible.
As the client, it might feel very strange that conversations are taking place about your case without you being involved in them. Again, always ask your solicitor to explain what is happening. Nothing can be agreed without your instructions, and it is your solicitor's job to make sure that you understand and are able to make informed decisions.
Taking someone to court with you is sometimes helpful, and you should discuss this possibility with your solicitor in advance. New partners are not necessarily a good idea, but a good friend, parent or sibling can be a useful source of support. Third parties are often able to digest information in a more objective way and can be helpful sounding boards if necessary.Don't be embarrassed
You will realise when you get to court that you are not alone in having to make use of the judicial system. It is more common than you think, and not something to feel ashamed about. Most people in court are there because they have tried to resolve an issue in other ways but, whether formally or otherwise, were unable to.What should I wear?
Clients are often anxious about this. Your solicitor will be able to guide you about what will be appropriate, but feeling comfortable in what you are wearing and the image your outfit projects is the most important factor.Have a good breakfast
This can be some of the most useful advice a solicitor can give a client the day before a hearing. Being in court is an inevitably draining experience, and it can be a long day. This will have an impact on your capacity to make decisions and properly process what is happening.Although court proceedings in a family law context may seem incredibly daunting, following these simple steps will help ensure maximum comfort and minimum surprise when it comes to the day of proceedings. With all the varying contributing factors involved in this process, following the above list to promote ease and comfort is the best way to prepare for this complicated and often draining experience.