How to Win Interim Hearings in Court
Many family court cases pertaining to parenting and property settlements can take over a year to be finalised. What happens when there is an urgent matter that litigants want to resolve, relating to their children or finances? Litigants often resort to Interim hearings to resolve urgent disputes while they wait for the court’s Final orders.
For people who have serious reservations about the other parties involved, winning an Interim hearing is crucial in making life easier before the Final Court hearing date arrives. The focus of Interim hearings is often the safety of children, and the court will always strive to obtain the ruling that is in their best interest. Other matters for Interim hearings include property settlement disputes.
This guide explains what Interim hearings are, how to prepare for them, and how to increase your chances of winning them.
What are Interim hearings in Family Court
Interim hearings are short court hearings that take place before the final hearing in court proceedings to determine urgent matters until the final court orders are made.
Interim hearings are usually heard in matters including:
Interim hearings are court proceedings that do not include any witness examination. The judge assesses the documents provided by the parties involved, and listens to the submissions made by the parties, then makes a judgement – which is called an Interim order.
Interim orders settle a particular urgent matter of dispute between the parties involved temporarily. Interim orders cease to be effective once the final hearing has taken place and Final Orders have been made by the court.
For example, an Interim order may grant one parent sole custody of the children or allow one spouse to remain in the marital home until the Final Order is reached.
Before you start preparing for an Interim hearings, here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Interim hearings are not long court sessions, usually taking a couple of hours
- All parties involved are required to attend Interim hearings
- A judge will always strive to make a ruling that is in the best interest of children
- Interim orders are reached from judge’s decision based on the documents provided – these includes initiation applications, subpoenaed documents and affidavits
- The judge can only make a decision based on agreed facts as no disputed facts are brought forward or discussed during an Interim hearing
- Judges cannot make Final orders during Interim hearings
How to prepare for an Interim Hearing
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
If you are in the process of initiating a parenting order, divorce or property settlement proceedings, and have concerns about your finances, your children or the marital home, it is important that you 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:
- Interim hearing applications can be filed along with the initiation application
- You cannot file for Interim orders without filing for Final orders as well
- If you file for a Final Order and the proceedings commence and you need to apply for an interim order, you will have to 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
- Financial statement for financial applications
Preparing for the hearing
Once you’ve filed for an Interim order, you’ll need to prepare for the hearing. The earlier you start, the more supporting evidence you’ll be able to 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 institution 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 in a bit more detail
Summary or outline
It’s a good idea to include a summary or outline of the documents your handing over to the judge for the Interim hearing. 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 series of events relating to your case – whether it is a parenting or property hearing. For example, if you fear that the other parent is a risk to your child, you would point that out in your summary or outline document, highlighting the evidence and supporting documents you have provided and effectively directing the judge to read them.
The evidence you provide to a judge during an Interim hearing will comprise documentation supporting the claims and arguments you are making. You can gather these supporting documents from individuals and organisations by filing and issuing subpoenas.
You will need to obtain a subpoena from the court – you can read more about how to get one here. A subpoena will allow you to get affidavits 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 it is important that you 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 clear your argument. Outline clearly what the dispute is, 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 own evidence.
You can propose orders and present them 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 of halting the sale.
This section can be included in your general summary or outline.
Consult an expert
An important way to increase your chances of winning Interim hearings is having an experienced legal advisor supporting you and your case. A lawyer will have experience in preparing documentation for Interim hearings, as well as obtaining subpoenas and affidavits.
So consider consulting a lawyer to support you and make your chances better.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.