I Have Been Served

I have been served with a Notice of Application

If you have been served with a "Notice of Application", it means that another person is applying for a court order. The court application may relate to arrangements concerning your child(ren) such as custody, access, guardianship or passport applications.

The person making the application is called the applicant. You are called the respondent.

You should read the application and any included documents very carefully. The application will tell you what the other person is applying for. It will also tell you the date, time and place that the application will be heard by a judge.

Depending on the order being applied for, the application may also include a Statement of Arrangements form. This form will contain information about the child(ren) and their current and proposed living arrangements. You will need to complete part of this form, so it is important to read the instructions very carefully. After completing the form, you must return it to the applicant.

More information on Arrangements for Children >

Your next steps

Once you have read and understood what's in the application, your next steps are:

1. Consider mediation and legal advice

Family Law decisions can have an impact on things such as arrangements for your children, maintenance, the family home, money, assets and pensions.

Before attending court, you should consider reaching an agreement with the help of a mediator or a solicitor.

Mediation can help to resolve any disputes you may have regarding maintenance. It is a confidential service. All mediators are neutral.

Mediation is not there to help couples reconcile. It is there to encourage you to cooperate and work out mutually acceptable arrangements. During mediation, you can meet with the mediator together or separately.

On average, mediation takes between three and six one-hour sessions.

If you have children, your mediator can ensure that the voice of the child is heard during the mediation process.

Your agreement can be changed or amended as needed. You will need to go to court to do this if, for example, your mediated agreement has been made a rule of court or forms part of a court order.

You might also want to get legal advice to understand your options. While the Courts Service cannot advise or represent people in court, we can inform you that services offered by a legal representative should include:

  • advising you of your legal rights
  • outlining how you might reach agreement
  • preparing and filing your paperwork
  • speaking on your behalf in court

You can decide to represent yourself in your law matter. If you decide to represent yourself, you will need to understand court procedures.

More information on mediation and legal help >

2. Consider other support services available

We understand that many court users may need support and assistance during their court journey. There are many support services available to advise you on your rights and obligations.

More information on support services >

3. Attend the court hearing

The application form will tell you the date, time and place of the court hearing. This will be for an in camera hearing which means it will be held in private. The applicant must also attend court on the date stated in the application.

When the case is heard, both you and the applicant will be required to present your case to the judge.

You should bring any documents that support your case to the court with you.

    Both you and the applicant will get an opportunity to give evidence to the court and ask the other party any questions about their evidence. The judge may also ask additional questions. After hearing all of the evidence, the judge will then make a decision on the application. This is called a court order.

    If the applicant fails to attend court, the case may be struck out by the judge. This means that the case will not go ahead and the applicant will have to start the entire process again.

    If you fail to appear, the case may go ahead without you and the judge can make an order in your absence.

    More information on preparing for Family Law Court >

    4. Receive the court order

    After the court hearing, the court office will finalise the order. The court office will post a copy of the order to both you and the applicant - or your solicitors - as soon as it is ready.

    If you do not receive the court order within four weeks, contact the court office.

    You have the right to appeal if you are not happy with the decision of the judge. If you wish to appeal the decision, you must file your appeal documents within fourteen days of the court hearing.

    More information about appealing a District Court Order >