Family Drug and Alcohol Court - Information for professionals
The court process is slightly different from normal proceedings. As well as the Initial Hearing there is a Case Management Hearing (CMH). This allows families the opportunity to be introduced to the FDAC process at the Initial Hearing and have an assessment before being asked to commit themselves at the second hearing (CMH).
As a part of that commitment the Judge will ask the parents to sign an agreement to participate and work with the intervention plan and to be open and honest. The parties will be fully represented by their lawyers at the Initial Hearing, CMH and subsequent Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH). However, between the CMH (normally the 4th week of proceedings) and the IRH (normally the 20th week of proceedings) the family will attend court for a Non-Lawyer Review once a fortnight.
The FDAC Intervention team will brief the Judge about the case prior to the Non-Lawyer Review and produce a short review report, which is shared with all the parties. In court the parents will normally talk directly with the Judge for up to half an hour. A short note of what is said is prepared by the FDAC Intervention Team and distributed to the parties.
If the case is proceeding according to plan the next court attendance will normally be another Non-Lawyer review; however, if there is a problem, the Judge or any of the parties
can ask for the matter to return with lawyers at the next hearing. The FDAC Judges are specially trained in helping families stay motivated and get better at taking charge of their own lives and solving problems.
In practice parents find the Non-Lawyer reviews a little daunting at first; however, when things go well, they are enormously important to the parents’ sense of self-respect and agency.
As per traditional care proceedings a Guardian will also be appointed at the first hearing who will act in the interests of the child/ren.