How Many Hearings Will there be in Child Proceedings?

Posted on: 4 mins read
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Chris Fairhurst

Partner, Family Law and Divorce Solicitor

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The amount of hearings in children proceedings varies depending on your case and the reasons why you have gone to Court. You and your child’s other parent could reach an agreement with just one hearing.

But if you cannot agree at the first hearing, then the Court might order a second hearing before making a decision. There will also be more hearings involved in children proceedings if any allegations made by one parent about the other.

Any Court proceedings can seem daunting, but when there are children involved it can make things even more complicated. The Court will always put your child’s best interests at the heart of any decisions they make.

Our Child Law Solicitors understand that emotions can run high when your children are involved in Court proceedings. We will always work to get the best outcome for you and your children.

For initial advice get in touch with our Child Law Solicitors.

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Before Going to Court in Child Proceedings

Before you go to Court, it’s important to try and reach agreement about your child through mediation by attending at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The Court will need to see written evidence that you have attended a MIAM when you apply for a Court Order about your children.

More often than not, decisions about children are be made without having to go to Court. This is because there are other cheaper and quicker ways of resolving disputes that are better for everyone involved.

Mediation isn’t appropriate in some cases such as where there has been domestic abuse, so you’ll go directly through the Courts. If this is the case, you may have more hearings in the Court proceedings, such as a Fact Finding Hearing.

Our Child Law Solicitors can advise you on how to settle child arrangement disputes without having to go through the Courts. We will handle your case sensitively and work with your child’s best interests in mind.

If, after mediation, you and your partner still cannot come to an agreement, then the next step is to go to Court. One of our Child Law Solicitors can represent you.

What Happens at Child Court Hearings?

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment

A First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) will likely be the first hearing you attend if you’ve applied for a Court Order involving your child , unless a more urgent hearing is needed. There are several different types of Court Orders that you can apply for involving children, but the three main ones are:

Our Child Law Solicitors can advise you on which Court Order you should apply for if you can’t reach an agreement with the other parent about your child.

The Court will use the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment to look at the issues and why you can’t agree. At this hearing, the Court will work with you to resolve these issues. The Judge might ask a Cafcass Officer to act as your child’s ‘voice’ in the Court and make recommendations towards the best outcome.

If you and your former partner reach an agreement at this first hearing, then the Judge might make a Final Order. This will outline and put in place the decisions that have been made.

If you can’t agree at this hearing, the Court will decide what evidence is needed at the next hearing to agree what would be in the child’s best interests. This might be another Dispute Resolutions Hearing or a Final Hearing.

The Court could also recommend that both parents attend a Separated Parents Information Programme, if they haven’t already, to try to settle any disputes. 

Fact Finding Hearing

A Fact Finding Hearing will only take place if there have been serious allegations made by either parent. This kind of hearing might be necessary if there has been domestic abuse. A Fact Finding Hearing lets the Court look at all the evidence to work out if any allegations that have been made are true. 

There needs to be a lot of preparation before a Fact Finding Hearing, so you should get legal advice from one of our Child Law Solicitors to help you with this.

Dispute Resolution Appointment Hearing

If you and your child’s other parent can’t agree at the FHDRA, the Court will ask you to attend a Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA). A DRA hearing is for the Court consider any statement or reports that have been filed.

It allows the Court a chance to narrow the issues between both parents, with the help of the Judge. If agreement cannot be reached any issues can be dealt with before the case goes to a Final Hearing.

Final Hearing

At the Final Hearing, the Court looks at all the evidence in the case to reach to a final decision. The Judge will likely put a Child Arrangement Order, or another child Court Order in place. Although if everyone can agree, a Court Order won’t be needed.

The Court will always put the best interests of your child first. It’s difficult to do sometimes, but try to always put your child’s welfare before your personal disputes.

Speak to a Child Law Solicitor

Our Family and Child Law Solicitors understand that it’s not always easy to agree on child arrangements with a former partner.

We’ll help to reduce conflict and get the best possible outcome for you and your child as soon as possible. Court proceedings shouldn’t affect your child’s life for any longer than they need to.

Our Child Law Solicitors will work with you and your former partner to take the emotion out of the process and come to an agreement that works best for your family.

Get in touch, today!

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