As we have discussed previously it is always preferable for parties to reach agreements without the need to go to Court, however there are of course always situations where an application to Court becomes necessary. To take such a step can be a difficult and daunting task however it may also be the first step in finally resolving what have often been very difficult and stressful circumstances.
Depending on the dispute there are 3 main types of Order you can ask the Court to make regarding your child, these are: a Prohibited Steps Order, Specific Issue Order and a Child Arrangements Order. Each of the Orders are set out in Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 and therefore may also be referred to as ‘section 8’ Orders.
A Child Arrangements Order is perhaps the most common. This is an order which sets out the arrangements for the child such as where they will live, how they will spend time with the non-resident parent, whether there should be shared care etc. This Order was historically known as a Residence Order, or a Contact Order, or even Custody. A Child Arrangements Order can set out any arrangements regarding the child. It will also often include the arrangements for the child on special occasions such as Christmas and Birthdays.
A Prohibited Steps Order will prevent a parent of a child from doing whatever the order prohibits without permission from the Court. This is often used for example to prevent a parent from relocating, or taking the child abroad.
A Specific Issue Order will determine a specific issue in relation to the child, often things such as where the child should go to school, or whether the child should relocate with one parent.
In order to apply to the Court for any of the above orders you must have Parental Responsibility for the child. If you do not have Parental Responsibility then you will need to seek the Court’s permission to make an application.
Furthermore unless an exemption applies you will be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you are able to make your application to the Court. Typical exemptions are if it is an urgent application, or if there has been domestic violence in the relationship. If you believe an exemption may apply then please speak with a member of our family team. The meeting will assess whether mediation is suitable.If so you will be invited to mediate, but you can still choose to make an application to the Court however. If your ex-partner refuses to attend a meeting you can still apply to the Court, so long as you have personally attended. A mediator is required to sign your application form to confirm to the Court that you have attended a MIAM. This must be done within the 3 months prior to making your application.
Once you have attended a MIAM, in order to make your application to the Court you will need to file a C100 form along with paying a Court Fee. The C100 form will contain full details of the child / children concerned, the parents and anybody else with an interest, such as if the child is living with another relative. You will also give brief details to the Court regarding your application, stating any previous agreements and how they have broken down, your reasons for bringing the application to the Court, what you want the Court to do and any reasons given by your ex-partner for their actions in relation to your application.
We will look at the Court process in further detail next time.
If you would like to discuss making an application, or any of the other issues raised in this article then please contact Stephanie Layton on 0191 232 8345.