If you know someone who has been involved in proceedings at the Family Court you may have heard them mention a Fact Finding hearing. So what is that?
Fact finding hearings are relatively uncommon and are usually used in Children proceedings or those involving domestic violence. Sometimes one or both parties may have made allegations against the other in relation to incidents they say have happened or behaviour they say the other person has exhibited and the Court may decide it is important to establish the truth of these allegations before the Court is able to make a final decision in the case. Usually this happens only when this is relevant to the decision the Court will make.
In that situation the Court will often list a Fact Finding hearing so that evidence may be placed before the Court to enable the Judge or Magistrates to decide who is telling the truth. Usually the Court will list a hearing, sometimes for as long as a day (or possibly more depending upon the number and complexity of the allegations) in order that they can decide who is telling the truth and how this may impact on the case overall.
The Court will then list the case for a final hearing on the basis that the decision at the final hearing is fully informed as to this behaviour before a final decision is made.