Family Lore Clinic: What happens if you do not turn up to a family court hearing?

The answer is: it depends - upon a number of factors, including the type of proceedings, the purpose of the hearing and the party who does not attend.

If the party who does not attend is the one that made the application, then the court may refuse the application, or may proceed in their absence.

If the party who does not attend is the respondent to the application, then the court may proceed with the hearing, if it is satisfied that the respondent received reasonable notice of the hearing and if the circumstances of the case justify proceeding with the hearing.

If the court cannot proceed with a hearing because of the failure of a party to attend, then it may penalise that party by ordering them to pay the other party's costs of the hearing.

Where a party does not attend a hearing and the court makes an order against them, the party who failed to attend may apply for the order to be set aside. The court may set aside the order if that party acted promptly, had a good reason for not attending the hearing and has a reasonable prospect of success at the hearing.

Of course, if the court has ordered a party to attend a hearing, then failure to do so would be a contempt of court, which could be punishable with imprisonment.

The simple rule is, of course: you should attend any hearing, unless the court has stated that you do not need to do so.

As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.