The court system consists of a number of courts including but not limited to:
Magistrates, Childrens Court, Family Court, Federal Magistrates Court, Supreme Court and High Court.
Appearing in court is stressful and intimidating, whether you are the applicant or the respondent.
The court system is overloaded. Cases are heard by magistrates and judges and often decisions are made in a matter of seconds.
If you are attending court as an applicant for the first time whether for domestic violence protection orders or family court matters then you need to be able to state your case concisely so that you can have some comfort in knowing the application may proceed to the next step.
TIPS for lessening the stress:
- Seek representation when possible – Having a voice to speak on your behalf helps to dissociate you from the matter which helps to eliminate a lot of unnecessary emotion.
- Know the court you are to attend and make sure you get to the court up to half an hour before the court time – Allow for time to find the court house, parking, go through security, find the court room, find your legal representative if you have one and brief each other in preparation.
- be concise in your words both verbal and written – Make sure statements (Affidavits) stick to the subject.
- make sure you file documents by due dates and check with the particular court as to what are the acceptable methods of serving to make sure you serve within the time frame required by the court.
- know specific points in your Affidavit material so that you can refer to the paragraph numbers quickly – Don’t expect the Magistrate to read your affidavit material.
- be confident in knowing you have the right to be heard, you are there because you believe in your truth
- wear clothes you feel confident in when you are wearing them and if it means wearing red underwear, WEAR IT – Get your clothes ready the day before.
Funding for Legal Aid in matters of domestic violence protection order applications is, at the time of writing this article, near non existent.
There are other avenues for legal presentation such as TASC but unfortunately it is not within the guidelines for TASC to represent at hearings or for court itself. The policy of TASC is to prepare and assist in preparation of letters and documents.
Google Domestic Violence and other related organisations such as SCOPE, CentaCare, Lifeline and Family Relationship Centres to find out as much as you can so you know what your choices are.
You can expect to pay anything from $220 an hour upwards for legal representation.
Self representation in the courts has become more prevalent.
To Your Peace of Mind