The types of orders that you can apply for in relation to children are:
Child Arrangements Order
This type of Order contains the following:
- “a live with order” – setting out with whom a child is to live; and
- “spend time with order” – setting out when a child is to have contact with another person
Specific Issue Order
An order dealing with a specific issue that has arisen regarding the exercise by one parent of their parental responsibility. For example, resolving a disagreement between parents about which school a child should attend.
Prohibited Steps Order
This is an order specifically to prevent the other person taking a particular step in exercise of parental responsibility. For example, to stop a child being removed from the country by the other parent.
You can find a Resolution specialist here. They will be able to advise you about your application
You may be entitled to free legal representation. Further detail can be found here.
Apply for an order
- Before making an application, you are required to have a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You can find a Resolution accredited mediator here.
If you cannot resolve the dispute in mediation, you can make the application here. The application can made either online or by completing the application form (C100) and sending it to the Family Court.
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions in the section entitled ‘concerns about risk of harm’ on the first page of the C100, you will also need to complete a supplemental form (C1A)which can be found here.
- If you are making a paper application, and want to keep your address and telephone number private, you should also complete a C8 and send this to the Court at the same time. The form can be found here.
- Once you have completed the form/s, you should send one copy of each document to the following address to start the proceedings:
PO BOX 4936
69 Buckingham Avenue
- You will also need to pay a Court fee of £215. You can pay this by card, cheque or postal order. If you are paying it by card, you should include your details on the C100. A member of the Court staff will call you to make a payment. If you are paying by cheque, you should send a cheque to the Court with your application payable to ‘HM Courts & Tribunal Service’.
You may be eligible for a full or partial reduction in the Court fee, if you are on a low income. Details of eligibility can be found here. The application can either be made online or by completing an EX160 Form and sending it to the Court with your application. Details are at the same link.
Having received the documents the Court will fix a hearing date (First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment.). You will receive notification of this. You should attend the hearing. The Court will send a copy of your application and notice of the hearing date to the other person and invite them to attend.
First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment
Your hearing will be held in private and in most cases only you, the other person, and any legal representatives, can attend. If you need extra support or assistance you can ask the Court for this, in advance and it may be agreed that you can take a friend or relative into Court with you if you do not have a Solicitor. They will not be able to talk on your behalf but can offer you support.
Prior to the first hearing you will be contacted by Cafcass. They will want to talk to both of you about the application and will carry out some initial safeguarding checks with the Police and Social Services. Their role is to assist the Court and, as part of that, they will produce a short report ahead of the first hearing.
At the hearing you will both have an opportunity to speak to Cafcass.
The purpose of the first appointment is for the Court to see what the situation is, to consider what agreed orders can be made and to make orders to progress the case further with a view to concluding the case, either by agreement or by making a decision following a final hearing.
The orders that are made will vary from case to case but generally include the following:
- For both of you to attend a Separated Parenting Programme (separately);
- For both of you to file statements setting out their case;
- For a Section 7 welfare report to be prepared (either by Cafcass or Children’s Services).
In certain situations, you may require an urgent order. For example, an order for the urgent return of a child. If so, you should ask for an emergency order when you apply. If you require an urgent order you should contact your local Family Court first. Details can be found here.
Depending upon the circumstances, it may be appropriate to make the application, without telling the other person that you are applying. This is known as a ‘without notice’ or ‘ex-parte’ application.
The court will hold a hearing which you must attend. If the Court make an order, it will normally last until the date of the next hearing. The other party is then given notice and invited to attend a further hearing when the matter will be reconsidered with both of you present.
Following the first hearing
After the steps, that were ordered at the first hearing, have taken place and required documents produced, a further hearing will take place. This is called a ‘Dispute Resolution Appointment’.
The purpose of this hearing is for the parties and the Court to consider those documents, with a view to seeing whether an agreement can be reached, and, if not, what steps need to happen to progress the case further, ultimately to a final hearing.
At the final hearing, both parties, and generally also, the author of the Section 7 report, will give oral evidence. The Court will consider both the written and oral evidence in order to make a decision. That decision will be set out in a final order and the case will be finished.
Please do bear in mind that every case is different and there may be variations in the way in which they proceed, the orders made and the amount of hearings that take place. In many cases, an agreement is reached before a final hearing. The Court can then make an agreed final Order and the proceedings are brought to an end.