Amy, based in the family court in Coventry and Warwickshire, tells us why she became a family magistrate.
What is your background?
I am a mother of four children aged 9 to 16. Before having my children, I worked in higher education administration but the journey to having my first child sparked my interested and passion for supporting parents. In 2007 I started training to be an antenatal teacher with the NCT, qualifying in 2010 and this is a role I still work in. Since 2015 I have been studying for my PhD in the field of childbirth related psychological trauma.
What made you decide to become a family court magistrate?
My interest started when I heard a news report about there being a shortage of magistrates and that they were looking for new recruits. I knew very little about who could be a magistrate and what it entailed so I did some reading online and that is when I realised the different roles for crime and family.
As I am passionate about supporting families and enabling healthy relationships, the family court seemed like a good fit for me. I liked the idea of being able to work as a team with fellow magistrates and the legal advisor to protect and support children.
What is a typical day/hearing like?
On arrival at court, first things first, you make a cup of coffee and then settle down to read the ‘bundles’. These are all electronic cases that you will hear in that sitting, with all relevant files brought together and shared with you by the legal advisor. For each case you go into the court room and hear what the applicant and respondent (or their legal representative) have to say on the application that they are making.
As a family magistrate, you can ask questions to the applicant and respondent (this is normally done through a chair) to ensure that you have all the information you need to decide on the application. The magistrates then retire, leave the court room, so they can privately discuss what they have read and heard to reach a decision. The legal advisor can offer support in what options are available to the magistrates when reaching a conclusion. The magistrates then return to court to deliver their decision to the clients.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a family court magistrate?
If you are looking for a new challenge and you are interested in protecting children and supporting families then go for it! Everyone on my journey have been so supportive and kind and I have learnt so much, it’s been a positive experience for me.