The Law

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Family Court

It is always preferable for parents to sort out their differences, particularly with regard to their children, without the interference of the Court. If this is not possible, your lawyer can discuss whatever arrangement you would like to propose for your children and express it, in legal terms, to the Court.

The children's welfare is of paramount importance. The Court will apply what they call The Welfare Checklist to help them decide what is best for the children. The checklist considers...

  • the wishes and feelings of the children (dependant on age).
  • the children's physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • the likely effect of any change in the children's circumstances.
  • the children's ages, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court believes are relevant.
  • any harm which the children have suffered or are at risk of suffering.
  • how capable each of the parents are in meeting the children's needs. 
     

The Court will only make an order if it believes that it would be in the best interests of the children. The Court may decide not to make an order and this is known as the "no order" principal. Any subsequent changes to an order are
referred to as varying the order and cancelling or ending one is called discharging or terminating the order.

You and your lawyer will be required to attend up to three Court Hearings. These are generally informal, taking place around a table. In extreme cases, you may be referred to the Royal Court.

  • The preliminary directions hearing determines if there is a case for the Court to deal with. If you have a lawyer acting for you, only they need to attend this hearing. However, if you do not have a lawyer then you must attend. The Courts do expect both parents to have, or be willing to, attend mediation. We would recommend that you agree to try mediation. We would hope that some sort of decision can be made regarding arrangements for the children. If this is not possible then a date for a case review hearing will be given.
  • The case review hearing, is again with the same Court, and must be attended by both parents and their lawyers if they have one. This is to determine whether any agreements have been reached between parents or anything can be done to reach an agreement between parents or find out the extent of the dis-agreements. If agreement is not possible then a welfare report in Jersey or a Family Court Advisor Report in Guernsey is requested and a date set for a final hearing.
  • The final hearing is attended by both parents, their respective lawyers if they have one, and the same Court Welfare Officer or Guernsey Family Court Advisor. A decision is made at this time based on evidence from the welfare report, the Court Welfare Officer or Guernsey Family Court Advisor and the lawyers.


The Officer who attends the Court hearings must be different to the Officer who completed the welfare report. If you believe that this is not the case, or you have had experience of this not being the case, please contact us.

If a lawyer is representing you, and you are present in the Court, you are not allowed to say anything. Whether you represent yourself, or not, it may be that some, or all, of the decisions will not be to your liking or your agreement. You are able to appeal, and more likely to be listened to, if you remain calm.

The same Court procedures are followed to determine the finances and maintenance.

We recommend that you do not represent yourself. If however you wish to, contact us and we can talk you through the process and offer advice and guidance.

Some of the procedures described and the terms used may be different depending on whether you live in Jersey, Guernsey or one of the other Islands.
 

JERSEY GUERNSEY
   
 Jersey Family Court Advisory Service             Safeguarder Services 

Separation & Divorce

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Finance

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The Law

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