Many people are concerned about the other party acting in a threatening and/or intimidating manner at the court. If you are worried about sitting in the same waiting area as the other party you can contact the court in advance of your hearing and ask for a separate waiting area.
If you feel intimidated or are concerned for your safety then notify a member of court staff, security or CAFCASS.
If you are worried about leaving the court building because you might be abused or intimidated by the other party on the way home, you can wait in the court building for a short period of time until they have left the building.
In some courts there is a side or back exit that court staff will arrange for you to use if you are worried. Even though the hearing is private, it is fine to travel to and from court with a friend or family member who can wait in the court building whilst the hearing is going on.
There are various books available in print or e-book format that might be useful to you, for example ‘The Family Court Without a Lawyer – A Handbook for Litigants in Person’.
Support at court
The court is a public building and you are allowed to take a friend, family member or domestic abuse support worker with you to court to sit with you in the waiting area for support.
You may be allowed to take a McKenzie Friend with you. A McKenzie Friend can provide support to you in the hearing but cannot speak on your behalf. You will need the court’s permission for them to attend as the hearing is confidential. You can read more about McKenzie Friends here.
If you do not feel able to be in the courtroom with your ex because of domestic abuse, you can ask the court for “special measures” so that you can participate in the hearing. This might include using screens so that your ex cannot see you in the court room or using virtual screens if attending a remote hearing. Sometimes this happens for the whole hearing and sometimes just whilst you are giving evidence. You should contact the court in advance of the hearing and the court will need to approve your request which is usually done at the start of the hearing.