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Interim Hearings: Your Comprehensive Guide

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An interim hearing is a crucial part of many legal proceedings. This type of hearing takes place before a final hearing to address urgent issues that cannot wait until the main issues in the case are resolved.

The purpose of an interim hearing is to manage situations that require immediate attention and decisions, thereby ensuring that parties are protected and that the matter proceeds to the final hearing in a just, efficient, and timely manner.

Meaning

Interim hearings in family court in Australia are court hearings that are held to make temporary orders before the final hearing of a case. They are usually held when there is an urgent need to decide on a particular issue, such as child custody or support.

Interim hearings may also be held to:

  • Prevent one party from selling or disposing of assets
  • Order one party to pay interim financial support to the other party or the children
  • Order one party to return to the matrimonial home
  • Order one party to stay away from the other party or the children
  • Make other orders that are necessary to protect the interests of the parties or the children

Interim hearings are typically less formal than final hearings. They may be held on the papers, meaning that the judge will decide based on the documents that have been filed. Witnesses may sometimes be called to give evidence, but this is less common.

Interim orders are effective until the final hearing of the case. The judge will decide on the issues in dispute at the final hearing.

Interim Order Family Law

Interim orders play a crucial role in family law proceedings, providing temporary solutions to urgent issues while the case is ongoing. These orders are sought during interim hearings, which are typically held early in the legal process to address pressing matters that cannot wait for a final resolution.

Interim Order Coverage

Interim orders in family law cover a wide range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Child Custody and Access: Interim orders may determine temporary arrangements for child custody, visitation schedules, and parental responsibilities until a final parenting plan or custody arrangement is established. This ensures that the children’s best interests are prioritised during the legal process.
  • Financial Support: In cases of separation or divorce, interim orders may address temporary financial support arrangements, including spousal maintenance, child support, and the use of marital assets. These orders aim to provide financial stability to both parties during the proceedings.
  • Property and Asset Division: Interim orders may also address the division of marital assets and properties temporarily, ensuring that both parties have access to essential resources while the division is being finalised. This can include interim injunctions to prevent the dissipation of assets or interim property settlements based on immediate needs.
  • Restraining Orders: In situations involving domestic violence or harassment, interim orders may be sought to provide immediate protection to victims. This can include restraining orders prohibiting the abusive party from contacting or approaching the victim or their children.

How To Win

Winning an interim hearing in Australia requires precise strategy and thorough preparation.

First, secure a knowledgeable lawyer experienced in local court procedures. Together, develop a clear, persuasive argument and gather robust evidence, ensuring your affidavit is concise, factual, and relevant.

Anticipate the opposing party’s arguments, preparing counterpoints and responses. Present confidently and respectfully in court, following all procedural requirements and deadlines.

It’s crucial to understand that these hearings focus on urgent issues requiring immediate resolution, so tailor your case around the necessity and urgency of your requests. While success can’t be guaranteed, aligning your preparations with these focal points increases your likelihood of a favourable outcome.

How To Prepare

Interim hearings are an efficient way to resolve urgent disputes while waiting for the final hearings. This section explains how to file for an interim order and what documents to prepare before the hearing.

Filing an application

Suppose you are initiating a parenting order, divorce, or property settlement proceedings and have concerns about your finances, children, or marital home. In that case, you must file for an Interim hearing as well. 

To ensure that you get an Interim hearing, prepare for it in advance and keep in mind that:

  1. Interim hearing applications can be filed along with the initiation application
  2. You cannot file for Interim orders without filing for Final orders as well
  3. If you file for a Final Order and the proceedings commence, and you must apply for an interim order, you must file an Application in a Case with a supporting Affidavit.

The documentation that you have to prepare when filing for an Interim hearing includes:

  • Initiation applications
  • Notice of Abuse, Violence, or Risk for a Parenting Application
  • Affidavit
  • Financial statement for financial applications

Preparing for the hearing

Once you’ve filed an Interim order, you must prepare for the hearing. The earlier you start, the more supporting evidence you can procure, so start as early as possible.

When preparing for the hearing itself, in addition to affidavits, you’ll need to prepare the following documents:

  • Summary of documents highlighting what you’d like the judge to read
  • Evidence from different individuals and/or institutions gathered by way of subpoenas or further Affidavits
  • Response to other parties’ evidence
  • Clear articulation of your argument/expected outcome

Let’s break these documents down in a bit more detail

Also read: Losing Credibility in Family Court: The Downward Spiral in Australian Legal Battles

Summary or outline

Including a summary or outline of the documents you are handing over to the judge for the Interim hearing is a good idea. In this document, you can highlight what you’d like the judge to read, what you and the other party agree and disagree upon, and what you’d like the outcome of the hearing to be. 

This is the document where you can outline the events relating to your case, whether a parenting or property hearing.

For example, if you fear that the other parent is a risk to your child, you would highlight that in your summary or outline document, highlighting the evidence and supporting documents you have provided and effectively directing the judge to read them.

Evidence

The evidence you provide to a judge during an Interim hearing will comprise documentation supporting your claims and arguments. You can gather these supporting documents from individuals and organisations by filing and issuing subpoenas. 

If you must obtain a subpoena from the court; you can read more about how to get one here. A subpoena can allow you to obtain relevant information from individuals and documents (like medical or financial records) that support your claims. 

You might not always be successful in collecting all the evidence you want, but you must start early and consult with your legal advisor to build the best case possible. Getting the supporting document to back your arguments and proposed orders will increase your chances of winning the Interim hearing. 

Argument and Interim Hearing Outcome

In this portion of your documentation, you should make your argument. Outline clearly the dispute, the agreed-upon facts, and what outcomes you want to see from the Interim hearings. 

You can also provide arguments or dispute claims made against you by the other party in their evidence.

You can propose and present orders to the judge, outlining exactly what result you want from the proceedings.

For example, if you want sole custody of the child until the Final hearing, you would highlight that. If the Interim hearing were dealing with a property settlement matter, like selling the joint home, you would propose an Interim order to halt the sale.

This section can be included in your general summary or outline. 

Need Guidance Through Your Interim Hearing?

Going through an interim hearing alone can be scary and hard on your emotions. These important meetings decide on short-term actions that could greatly affect your life.

We at Justice Family Lawyers know what’s at stake. Our committed team will hear your voice, known for caring and having a strong winning streak. Don’t let luck decide what will happen.

Let’s lay a good foundation for the final settlement of your case. Get in touch with Justice Family Lawyers immediately to set up a meeting, and then go to court confidently.