Attending court can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are representing yourself. It is important that you are well prepared in order to fully present your case to the Court; one way of achieving this is to write a position statement. This information page will describe how to write a position statement and why it is useful to do so.
What is a position statement?
A position statement, as the name suggests, is a statement which outlines your position. A position statement is not unique to family court proceedings; however, in this context it is a particularly useful tool for litigants in person to convey their position regarding a particular family court hearing which they are involved in.
Ordinarily providing a position statement is not obligatory but there are circumstances when the court will direct that both parties provide one.
You should bear in mind when preparing your position statement that the information should be as such that the Judge can quickly read and digest it. During the course of the court hearing, the Judge will often direct that you elaborate on a point that you made in the position statement so do not think that the statement has to be exhaustive. It is preferable to keep comments short and to the point in order to not dilute the effectiveness of the position statement.
Please note that the position statement should not include evidence. The court will generally request that evidence be filed separately and it will form part of a witness statement.
Why should I write a position statement?
As well as providing a copy to the Judge, it is also recommended that you have a copy to hand whilst in the court hearing. Going through court can be an emotional and strenuous process and although you may feel ready to say what you wish to say in the lead up to a court hearing, it may be a different story once you are standing in front of a Judge. It is important to have a position statement in front of you, therefore, as you can always refer to it if you lose your train of thought.
The second advantage to writing a position statement is that the Judge, in the majority of cases, will read it prior to the hearing and therefore will be aware of the situation and your perspective at an early stage. Your willingness to consider the case in a thoughtful manner prior to the hearing is appreciated by the court as it can lead to a more efficient process.
How do I write a position statement?
- Write the following at the header of the statement:
- Case number
- Names of the parties separated into ‘’applicant’’ and ‘’respondent’’.
- Name of the court where the case is being heard.
- Title the position statement and make reference to the specific hearing in the title. For example, ‘’Position Statement for First Hearing’’.. ‘’Position statement for Fact-Finding Hearing’’.
- Use plain English.
- Do not use legalese as this will often complicate or confuse the reader unnecessarily.
- Number your paragraphs so reference can be made to a specific section quickly if required.
- Sign and date the statement.
- Use a clear font and double space the lines if possible.
- Try and limit the position statement to 1 or 2 sides of A4.
For the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment Hearing (First Hearing) it is advisable that you cover the following points in your position statement:
- Information regarding back ground information to the situation.
- Brief summary of what has arisen to bring the current situation to court.
- Any additional information that may support the proceedings.
- What outcome the applicant/respondent would like to see from court proceedings. (Make sure that you are precise and realistic with what you write here).
The contents for future hearings can generally fit the same format but may deviate slightly according to how the previous hearings have been conducted and what has been discussed. For example, when writing your position statement for a directions hearing you will be aware of what the court are already considering and you can integrate what has occurred since the last hearing.
Make sure that the Welfare Checklist (S.1 Children Act 1989) is at the forefront of your mind when you write your position statement as this is what the court use to determine what is in the best interests of a child in any given case.
You can view our example position statement here.
How do I submit my position statement?
Although it is recommended that you submit the position statement to the Court and other party well in advance of the court hearing, in practice there should be no issue with submitting it on the day of the court hearing to the Court Usher and also to the other party.
The purpose of providing a copy to the other side is to see whether an agreement can be reached prior to going into the court hearing.