Practice & Procedure

WHAT IS AN INTERIM HEARING IN A FAMILY LAW CASE?

An interim hearing is a mini hearing before the final hearing in a case.

Why ask for an interim hearing?

A party asks the court for interim orders where there is some urgency to resolve an issue. Examples of interim hearing matters include:

Property

  • Sale of the family home
  • Who can live in the family home
  • Injunctions or restraints on a party from selling or disposing of assets

Children

  • Spending time with children (especially where one party is not allowing or restricting another party from seeing their children)
  • Communication between parents and children
  • Monitoring the behavior of a party, eg drug testing and restraints on certain behaviour

Maintenance

  • Interim spousal or de facto maintenance payments

How long does an interim hearing take?

Depending on the complexity of a matter, an interim hearing can last from less than 15 minutes to several hours. Generally though, they are heard in less than two hours.

How long after the interim hearing will the Judge deliver his/her decision?

In many matters, the Judge will deliver his/her decision immediately following the interim hearing.

In matters which are more complex, the decision may be delivered at a later point in time.

In most interim hearings, the judge will provide reasons for his/her decision.

How long do interim orders last for?

The orders made at an interim hearing are temporary and will remain in place until they are replaced by one of the following:

  • further interim court orders
  • some other agreement between the parties
  • final orders.

What are the advantages of an interim hearing?

  • Interim orders can ensure that assets of the marriage (eg, real estate, savings) are preserved and that one party does not sell, give away or make disappear those assets.
  • Interim orders can compel an unwilling parent to allow the other parent to spend at least some time with their children, until the final hearing – which can be years away.
  • Interim orders can be a trigger for final settlement of a matter as it may narrow the issues of dispute between the parties.

Are there any disadvantages in seeking an interim hearing?

  • Because there is usually no cross-examination of witnesses in an interim hearing, the party at the receiving end of serious allegations (eg, domestic violence) is unable to test that evidence.
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  • The cost of an interim hearing is an extra cost that has to be borne by the parties.

How do I go about obtaining interim orders?

  • Interim orders can be sought in your Initiating Application or Response; or in an Application in a Case.

Should I seek interim orders or not?

A party should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of an interim hearing in consultation with his/her lawyer before deciding whether to seek interim orders or not.

Before seeking interim orders, you should seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer.

Our principal – Namrata Singh regularly conducts interim hearings in the Family Court and Federal Magistrate’s Court. She can be contacted on (02) 8798 0457 or namrata@opallegal.com.au for a free initial consultation about whether or not to apply for interim orders.

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