All you need to know about a fact finding hearing

Have you been sent a hearing notice to attend a fact find hearing? If so our team of family law specialists can help you prepare for this hearing and advice you on the evidence in family court needed to help your case. Our team can arrange a consultation with you to ensure you are familiar with the fact finding hearing.

You may have received a notice to attend a fact finding hearing and do not know what to expect. Our family law specialists can advise you as to what a fact finding hearing is and what this involves while considering the possibility of a resolving child arrangements even if on any interim basis.

What is a fact finding hearing?

A fact finding hearing is a type of hearing in which the judge would consider allegations and to decide important issues that are in dispute to determine whether an alleged incident took place or not. A fact finding hearing usually takes place after the initial dispute resolution appointment and prior to a final hearing in the family court.

Will a fact finding hearing lead to a final hearing in a family court?

A fact finding hearing usually takes place in child proceedings where the parties are unable to reach an agreement and are making allegations against each other which the courts may feel needs to be addressed ahead of a final hearing in the family court.

It is important to note that the court will only list for a fact finding hearing if it is satisfied that such hearing is required to determine the issues and not just because of the allegations between the parties or because it is recommended by Cafcass. If the court does not feel that that a fact finding hearing is necessary than the matter will usually proceed to a final hearing in the family court.

What purpose does a fact finding hearing serve?

Fact finding hearings are important in child arrangement matters. This is because an emphasis is placed on the welfare of the child before awarding child custody or contact. Therefore when allegations of harm are made against the child or where parent make allegations regarding each other the court may need to determine whether the allegations and incidents are true and took place. This is to ensure that the Court can be satisfied that child may not be at a risk of harm if contact is to be provided.

What happens before a fact finding hearing takes place?

Prior to a fact finding hearing the parent making an allegation must provide a list of the allegations it is making. They would then also have to provide a statement explain clearly what the allegation is, when this took place, what exactly happened, whether there is any supporting information and details if anyone else was present.

It is strongly recommended to seek early legal advice and assistance at this stage to be given the best possible change of winning a children fact find hearing.

Our child custody law specialists are available for a free initial consultation to provide you with advice that will best help you prepare or even a further opinion, if possible if you are questioning your confidence in your current legal team.

This statement from the parent making the allegations is used as evidence in family court at the fact finding hearing. It is important that any allegations are carefully considered before being made as the court can request other experts to provide information and or attend the fact finding hearing to give evidence in family court.

The parent who has been subjected to the allegations will also be able to prepare a statement whilst responding to the allegations again which forms as evidence in family court. The statements from both parents together with any other information will be used as a court bundle which will be considered at the fact finding hearing.

If you are a parent who is concerned about the court awarding contact to your former partner whom you feel is not enough to care for your child then you can contact one of our family law specialists who will be able to discuss your issues in depth. We would also be able to assist parents against whom allegations have been made and we suggest you contact us should you require more information.

What happens at a fact finding hearing?

Many parents who are going through childcare proceedings are often unaware of what happens at a fact finding hearing. Our experts can guide you through this difficult time to ensure you are kept updated with every process of your proceedings.

You may wonder what happens at a fact finding hearing. During this hearing the parent making the allegations gives their evidence first and is also cross examined. This is again repeated for the parent against whom the allegations are made. The judge will consider all evidence in family court which is presented together with the statements filed before the fact finding hearing. It is up to the party making the allegation to prove the allegation is true and must be proved on the balance of probabilities.

Further information which has been obtained for the fact finding hearing would also be considered and this could include any relevant police reports, medical records, evidence from other professionals such as teachers who may be able to provide further evidence in family court.

What happens after a fact finding hearing?

Following the evidence in court you will probably want to know what happens after a fact finding hearing. The court will make their decision on each allegation and confirm whether the allegation is proven as a fact and if so, it can be used in the final hearing in family court. If an allegation is not proven, then it will be dismissed and not considered further.

Following the fact finding hearing the Courts would have approved the facts and the matter can then proceed to the final hearing in family court.

Is a fact find hearing always needed?

A fact find hearing is not relevant in every case. Usually a fact find hearing is needed where there are allegations. The courts will order a fact find hearing if the allegations will affect the final outcome. If the allegations will not alter the final outcome a fact find hearing will not be ordered. Alternatively, if a party admits the allegations then a fact find hearing may not be required. Similarly, if the party has been found guilty by another court a fact find hearing will not be necessary.

The following considerations are considered before ordering a fact find hearing:

  • Court must be satisfied a fact find hearing is required. They are not listed because the parents want such hearings.
  • If allegations are accepted no fact find hearing is required.
  • Whether the nature and extent of allegations warrant a fact find hearing.
  • Whether a separate hearing is required or whether issues can be considered in a final hearing.

How do I best prepare for a fact find hearing?

A common question which arises is how do I best prepare for a fact find hearing? If such a hearing is required, you will be asked to provide a schedule of the allegations. These will be allegations which you want to be considered. A good starting point is to prepare a statement. This should describe the history and the allegations concerned.

The statement should cover in detail the allegations mentioned in the schedule of allegations. Any evidence needs to be gathered prior to a fact find hearing. If the police are involved, then permission needs to be obtained to obtain the records. If any matters are reported to your GP, then again permission is required from the court for this. Usually a letter from your GP should suffice. If any other witnesses can provide information permission should be sought for their statements. In a nutshell the best way to prepare for the hearing is to gather all relevant evidence. The allegations need to be set out clearly and concisely within your statement. The statement should indicate how these allegations can affect the outcome.

Can I have witnesses in the fact find hearing?

It is important to note that witnesses can give evidence in fact find hearings. Permission must be obtained from the court prior to the witnesses providing evidence. Usually witnesses may be able to submit statements. Quite often written evidence form the police or GP will be presented before the court. However, witnesses can also attend the fact find hearing. Witnesses can include the police or medical services. Witnesses can attend fact find hearings especially if they will be examined and cross examined.

Do I have to attend the hearing?

Many parents often query Do I have to attend a fact find hearing? The simple answer is yes. The purpose of the fact find hearing is to consider the allegations. Each person concerned will be required to give evidence and be cross examined. In order for the judge to reach an outcome on the allegations your attendance is compulsory. Barristers from both parties will cross examine each person.

If you are the person making the allegations you will need to ensure you attend. It is for the party making the allegations to prove they are true. The judge will consider the evidence provided before and at the hearing. A decision will then be made whether the allegations are true. Failing to attend the fact finding hearing may mean you have lost the opportunity to prove your case. This could have a negative effect on the overall matter. If a party has special circumstances the courts can cater for this. If one party is afraid of the other, then the court may make alternative provisions. Parties can give evidence via video or behind a screen. This stresses the importance of giving evidence at a fact find hearing.

What is the best advice on the hearing?

The best advice on a fact find hearing is to ensure you are prepared. If you are the party making the allegations you need to prove your case. It is important that any allegations are backed up by evidence. Parties should not make false allegations to portray a negative image of the other party involved.

It is important your statement clearly deals with your allegations. Ensure you provide in detail how such allegations can affect the overall case. If you are facing allegations you need to ensure you seek legal advice on defending these. It is important you provide strong responses and evidence to the allegations raised.

It is important to remember that each case is different. Therefore, tailored advice needs to be provided based on individual circumstances. Our specialists at Kabir Family Law provide tailored advice to suit your needs. We understand no case is the same. With years of experience we can assist you by preparing you for your fact finding hearing. Contact our offices today to see how we can help your family law matter.

— Q&A SECTION —

What cases are fact finding hearings used for and what evidence can be presented as evidence in family court?

Fact finding hearings are usually common in cases involving children. However, they can also be used in divorce matters as well as matters concerning domestic abuse, violence and financial matters.

Witness statements, witness evidence, police and medical records, copies of text messages, emails and photographs can all be presented as evidence in family court for purposes of a fact finding hearing:

What is a final hearing family court in the UK?

Many people of want to know about a final hearing family court in the UK. A final hearing is effectively the hearing in which the court would provide its decision. For example in a child proceedings matter the final hearing will confirm which parent the child will stay with and the contact arrangement.

Speak to our family law specialist in York today

For more extensive advice, we welcome you to contact us on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back. With family law specialists in York, Manchester and London and further offices open nationally we are proud to be a leading provider for family law and serving client’s nationally across the Country.

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Kabir Family Law Fulham
Chester House
1st and 3rd Floors
81 - 83 Fulham High Street
Fulham
London
SW63JA

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Kabir Family Law Northampton

20-30a Abington Street
Northampton
NN1 2JA

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Kabir Family Law Oxford

1 & 3 Kings Meadow
Oxford
OX2 0DP

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Kabir Family Law Newcastle

Clavering House
Clavering Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
NE1 3NG

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Kabir Family Law London

Kabir Family Law London
16 High Holborn
Holborn
London
WC1V6BX

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Tower Court
3 Oakdale Road
North Yorkshire
York
YO30 4XL

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