Who makes decisions in the Family Court?
2 minute read
Some cases are dealt with by magistrates. Magistrates are volunteers who court cases in their community. Some magistrates deal with cases in the criminal courts. And some with cases in the Family Court, including care proceedings.
Each case is usually heard by three magistrates. One magistrate is trained to at as Chair. The magistrates are supported by a legal adviser. The adviser is a qualified lawyer. They give the magistrates advice on the law. They help make sure magistrates follow the rights process. Magistrates will usually deal with less complex cases. And cases where a final hearing will not last for more than three days.
There is more information about magistrates here.
Some care proceedings are heard by a judge. There are different levels of judge. These are: District Judges, Circuit Judges and High Court Judges.
Cases where there is lots of medical information, or where experts hold different views and opinions are more likely to be heard by a Circuit Judge. Some of the more complex cases will go to the High Court of the Family Division to be heard by a family judge there. This involves a case moving from the Family Court to that High Court. This is known as transferring the case.
Sometimes care proceedings can only be dealt with by a High Court judge. Examples include cases where a child may be adopted to someone overseas. Or where there is especially complex information about immigration or asylum issues.