Fact-finding hearings in private children proceedings
Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Fact-finding hearings in private children proceedings

The following Family guidance note Produced in partnership with Katherine Illsley of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Fact-finding hearings in private children proceedings
  • When will a fact-finding hearing take place?
  • Guidance about the conduct of fact-finding hearings and FPR 2010 PD 12J
  • What is the court’s task at a fact-finding hearing?
  • What principles will the court adopt in determining whether a fact is found proved or not
  • Appeals from a fact-finding

Fact-finding hearings or split trials are listed by the court within private law children proceedings in order for oral evidence to be heard on contested allegations that are relevant to the decision the court needs to make in relation to the child’s welfare. At the hearing, the court will reach any decision in relation to the allegations by applying the test of the balance of probabilities.

When will a fact-finding hearing take place?

A fact-finding hearing will not be appropriate in every private law children case. There firstly needs to be an allegation, or a number of allegations, in relation to domestic abuse, or neglect of a child. Secondly, findings in relation to such allegations would need to be relevant to the decisions that the court needs to make in the case. It may be that findings would be of no assistance to the court in determining what is in the best interests of the child because, eg there has already been partial acceptance of the allegations anyway, the allegations are historic, or the allegations are very minor. A fact-finding hearing may not only be unnecessary but also counter-productive in that it risks worsening an already fraught relationship between parents. It may not be helpful for one parent to walk away from a fact-finding hearing with a number of serious