Georgia McWilliam


DATE PUBLISHED: 19 Mar 2024 LAST UPDATED: 19 Mar 2024

What is a fact find hearing?

In family law, particularly in cases involving children, the court must prioritise the best interests of the child above all else. When disputes arise regarding the welfare of a child, the Court may consider it necessary for a fact find hearing to take place. These hearings play a crucial role in gathering evidence and establishing facts to inform subsequent decisions about the child’s welfare and future arrangements.

The purpose of a fact find hearing is to determine specific factual issues relevant to the welfare of the child. These issues may include allegations of abuse, neglect, controlling and coercive behaviour, substance misuse, or other concerns raised by parties in the proceedings.

What happens before a fact find hearing takes place?

Prior to a fact find hearing taking place, the parent (or in some cases both parents where cross allegations are made) will be directed to file a schedule of allegations and a detailed witness statement in support of their allegations.

The parent who has been subjected to the allegations will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

What happens at a fact find hearing?

The hearing will involve the parents giving evidence regarding the allegations. The parent making the allegations will give their evidence first and is also cross examined. Cross examination involves the other party’s barrister (or an appointed Qualified Legal Representative) questioning your evidence.  The person who has been subjected to the allegations will then give their evidence and be cross examined by the other party’s barrister.

The Court may well hear evidence from third parties.

At the conclusion of the fact find hearing, the Judge will deliver their judgment orally or in a written format.

What happens after a fact find hearing?

The judgment will consider each allegation and confirm whether the allegations are proven. The Court can even go as far as saying that an allegation has been falsified. If none of the allegations are proved, the Court may proceed to making a final order. If, however, some or all allegations are proved, the Court will need to give some thought as to what happens next. Where significant findings of domestic abuse have been found, the Court must consider Practice Direction 12J of the family procedural rules which essentially states that the court should not order contact unless it can be satisfied that the child and the victim would not be exposed to an unmanageable risk.

What happens next depends upon the facts of each case and whether the court is of the view that a further assessment from Cafcass (or another expert) is required.

The court may also wish to allow the parents to consider their respective positions and to consider whether one or both parents should attend courses or undertake work in relation to domestic abuse.

How does the Court determine the facts?

In family law, the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. This means that the Court will determine if it is more likely than not that the alleged incident took place. This is a much lower threshold than in criminal proceedings where the burden of proof is beyond reasonable doubt. Essentially, in family cases, the Judge must be 51% sure that the alleged incident took place.

Why should you seek legal advice?

Fact find hearings often involve complex issues and navigating these proceedings without proper legal guidance can have profound consequences for all parties involved, including the children. Our family department possess a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with complex children cases, involving very serious allegations of domestic abuse. Very recently one of our solicitors, Georgia McWilliam, successfully obtained an order for no contact between the father and children as a result of proving 95% of the mother’s allegations (which were of a very serious nature) and succeeded on a costs order being made.

How can Ellis Jones help?

If you need assistance or advice in relation to matters concerning your children and/or domestic abuse, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our expert Family Law Solicitors on 01202 636223 or by email to

How can we help?

When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.

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