What are Interim Hearings in Family Law?

What are Interim Hearings in Family Law?

In this video, Accredited Family Law Specialist and Page Provan Managing Director Bruce Provan discusses interim hearings in family law, specifically in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

Transcript

My name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers, we are a firm of lawyers in central Brisbane that practices exclusively in family and fertility law.

I want to talk to you today about interim hearings in family law and specifically in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. So, an interim order is a temporary order that lasts until it is superseded by a final order or until the interim order is discharged.

So typically what happens is that one person makes an application to court, and in that application they must seek final orders, but they could also list in the application what interim or temporary orders they want the court to make.

So this can be of two types, there’s either parenting orders where orders are sort about children, for example, where children are to live, whether they are to have contact with the other parent, etc.

Alternatively, they could be in relation to property proceedings, so for example, it could relate to occupation of a home, or it could relate to a partial property settlement where one person is seeking funds to be able to pay for their legal costs and outlays during the course of a property settlement proceedings.

So typically what happens is a person makes an application to court, they file all of the court documents they’re required to do, which includes the application, an affidavit, and a financial statement. An affidavit is one person’s sworn evidence.

That thing is launched in court, the other party then logs their documents in court, and it comes before generally a judicial registrar for a first court date and the judicial registrar will list the matter for an interim hearing.

That interim hearing will generally be before a judge or a senior judicial registrar. Now, an interim hearing is different from a final hearing because at an interim hearing, there is generally no oral evidence. The judge or the registrar makes a decision based upon what is in the filed court documents as well as the submissions made by the lawyers or the self-represented litigants.

So there’s not an opportunity for a person to get the witness box or not an opportunity for the other side to be able to cross examine them about what’s in their evidence. So in an interim hearing, the judge basis the decision on the facts of the information that they have available from what is in the court documents, most commonly what’s in the affidavit.

So there’s limited evidence. An interim hearing can only last for up to two hours, no longer, and the judge makes a decision after hearing submissions from both parties or their lawyers. The judge won’t necessarily make a decision straight away.

Sometimes the judge will reserve their decision for days or weeks while they go away, consider the matter further, and then before they hand down a judgment.

So even though interim orders are only temporary orders, they are very important and one of the reasons they’re so important is that sometimes those interim orders can stay in place for years before the matter gets to a final hearing, and once interim orders are made, particularly in parenting matters, it can be difficult for the other side or one of the parties to persuade the court that those orders should be changed or there should be any drastic variation to those orders.

So for example, if an interim order is made that a child lives with one parent, by the time the matter gets to a final hearing, it can be an uphill task for the other parent to persuade that the child should be taken off that parent to live with the other parent, and very often what happens is that once interim orders are made.

There are further negotiations between the parties, there may be further evidence, there may be a family report in a parenting matter, for example, that lead to a negotiated outcome rather than the matter proceeding to a final hearing. So preparation for and representation in an interim hearing is very important.

It’s important that it’s done properly and it’s done thoroughly because an adverse result at an interim hearing can be very detrimental to one of the parties. So if you’re seeking orders about interim orders, it’s important to obtain good legal advice from an accredited specialist in family law.

My name is Bruce Provan from Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers.

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