How to Apply for a Child Court Order
In England or Wales, if you have Parental Responsibility over your child, then you can apply for a Court Order if you and your partner have separated and cannot agree on:
- Where the child or children will live
- When you or your ex-partner will spend time with your child
- When or what types of child contact happen (g. phone calls)
- Child maintenance payments (in very limited circumstances)
If you do not have Parental Responsibility you can still apply for a Court Order, although you will need to make a separate application for the Court’s permission before you do so.
Before applying for a Court Order you will need to show a Court that you and your partner have tried mediation (except for certain cases, for example if there has been domestic abuse this step isn’t necessary). This is where you attend a meeting, with a mediator, to come to an agreement about how often you’ll each see your child. You may take this step if you cannot come to an agreement between just you and your ex-partner.
You should also consider attending a Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP) to see if that can help overcome the issues that lie between you.
There will be a cost to both mediation and attending the SPIP but this will be a great deal less than the money you may spend on court proceedings and could offer a quicker solution.
If you reach an agreement at the mediation meeting and want to make it legally binding you can request the help of a Solicitor to draft a Consent Order for the Court to approve.
If mediation hasn’t worked and you cannot settle your child dispute outside of Court then the next step is applying for a Court Order.
Our Family and Child Law Solicitors can advise you on how to settle family disputes involving your children, in a way that’s understandable and makes the process as easy as possible for you.
Different Types of Child Court Orders
There are several kinds of Court Orders that you can apply for. This will depend on what you and your ex-partner are struggling to agree on. You can apply for more than one Court Order at a time. These include:
- Child Arrangement Order – this specifies where the child lives, when you or your ex-partner spends time with them, and when and how they may have other contact
- Specific Issue Order – this deals with specific aspects of your child’s upbringing, such as what school they go to or if they should have a religious upbringing
- Prohibited Steps Order – this is used to stop the other parent from making decisions about your child’s upbringing
- Parental Responsibility Order – this is used to specify the rights, duties and responsibilities of a parent. It can be used by a father who never married the mother and the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate.
How to Apply for a Court Order
Step one is to download and fill in a C100 form. In this form you will need to include:
- Your address and your ex-partners address
- Details of who else lives with your child, for example the child’s grandmother or your new partner
- If Social Services are involved in your child’s life
- Written evidence that you have tried mediation
HM Government provide guidance on how to fill in C100 forms, and you can get advice from a Family and Child Law Solicitor to help you with this.
You will then need to send the original C100 form plus three copies to the Court to approve.
How Much Does it Cost?
It costs £215 to apply for a Court Order, not including any legal assistance you may need.
What Happens after Applying for a Court Order?
After the Court receive your application, they will check over your forms and respond with a date for the first appointment dealing with your case. The Court will usually respond around five weeks after they receive your forms.
You will also be spoken to by a CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) officer. Their role is to carry out safeguarding and background checks against you and your ex-partner, listen to what you have to say, and recommend a way forward for the Court at the first hearing.
This meeting at the Court is known as a Directions Hearing and will be with both parents. During this hearing the Court will work out what you can and cannot agree on and if your child is at risk in any way.
The Court always prioritises the best interest of the child. There are certain things that the Court take into consideration to ensure the best outcome for the child. These include:
- The child’s wishes and feelings
- How the changes may affect the child
- The child’s age, gender, characteristics and background
- Any possible risk of harm to the child
- The child’s physical and emotional needs
- The educational needs of the child
- Ability of the parents to meet the child’s needs
The Court handles every case on an individual basis and may also take other factors into consideration.
If necessary, the Court can ask a CAFCASS Officer to spend time with you and your family to help you decide on the best steps moving forward. This will usually be the case if welfare issues have been identified or other factors, such as violence, drug use or similar are involved in the case.
If you and the child’s other parent come to an agreement the Court will end the process. However, if you still cannot agree then the Court will decide for you.
If your ex-partner is not following your agreement, you can ask the Court to attempt to enforce the arrangements that you made.
If you need to change an application, or seek the Court’s help in another way during proceedings, you can do this by using a C2 form, which our Family and Child Law Solicitors would be happy to help you with.
Court Orders can seem daunting and complicated, but we aim to make the process as simple as possible for you to achieve the best outcome for you and your family.
For initial advice call our Family Law & Divorce Solicitors
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