Who to Expect Inside the Courtroom

In most cases only those involved in the case will be allowed into the courtroom. This usually means the applicant and respondent, as well as their solicitors and barristers.

Sometimes the judge may allow other people to attend. These may include approved researchers or members of the press. They may also include people whom the judge decides are appropriate to the case hearing, for example, domestic violence support workers. The publication of reports of family law cases is allowed in certain circumstances. However, no names, addresses, or any other details are used which might identify anyone involved in the case.

Who to expect inside the courtroom

The diagram shows who you should expect to see in the courtroom.

Courtroom Diagram


Expand the titles below to learn more about each.


1. Judge

The judge is in charge of your court hearing. There is no jury in Family Law cases. The outcome is decided by the judge alone. Judges dress formally and sit at their own bench at the top of the courtroom. They enter and leave the courtroom through a separate door near their bench.

2. Court Registrar

The Court Registrar sits in front of the judge. They assist the judge with administrative matters and are in charge of court documents and evidence. It is the Court Registrar who administers the oath to witnesses. They will also record the decision or outcome of the case.

3. Witness

The witness sits to one side of the judge and gives testimony in court. Either the applicant or respondent to a case may be called to the witness box to give testimony during the hearing. Other witnesses may also be called who can provide additional information to a case that may help the judge reach a decision.

4. Applicant/Respondent

The applicant in a hearing is the person who initiated or started the Family Law case. The respondent is the person who has had a case started against them by the applicant. The applicant and respondent will sit at different sides of the courtroom. If the applicant or respondent do not have legal representation, they will speak directly to the judge.

5. Solicitor

Certain childcare Family Law cases may be legally complex. In such cases, the applicant and/or respondent may have a solicitor present for their hearing. The solicitor will state the case for their client to the judge and outline what decisions their client is looking for.

6. Barrister

The applicant and/or respondent may also be represented by a barrister for their hearing. Where a solicitor and barrister are present for either party, the barrister will state the case to the judge on behalf of their client.

7. Interpreter (not shown in diagram)

Clients or witnesses whose first language is not English or Irish (the official languages of the court) may require an interpreter to be present at the hearing. An interpreter will translate to the client or witness what is being said by the judge. They will also translate to the judge what is being said by the client or witness.

8. Assistant to the Judge (not shown in diagram)

The judge may have an assistant in court on the day of the hearing. They usually wear a black robe. In addition to other duties, the assistant to the judge often announces the arrival and departure of the judge from the courtroom. They will usually do this by giving the instruction ‘all rise’. This means everyone must stand up when the judge enters or leaves the room. This is to show respect for both the judge and the law itself.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the dress code for the courtroom?

There is no specific dress code. However, people usually dress like they would for a job interview.

How do I address the judge?

You address them as 'Judge'. You should only speak when asked to do so by the judge.

Who will be in attendance?

For information on who will be there and what their roles are, please review the courtroom illustration.

Are mobile phones allowed in court?

No. Please make sure your mobile phone is turned off or switched to silent before entering the courtroom.

Where do I sit?

When you enter the courtroom, you will be directed where to sit by the judge or registrar.