How can I sort out the arrangements for my children?

If you cannot agree arrangements for your children, you can make a separate application under the Children Act 1989.  This is known as a Child Arrangements Order. This has replaced the Orders that were formerly known as Residence and Contact Orders.

What arrangements can I ask the Court to deal with?

The Order can deal with both the living arrangements for the child and also set out the arrangements for the child to spend time with the other parent. This could be in the form of direct (face to face) contact but it can also cover contact by letter, email or telephone.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

If you are the child’s mother or father you are automatically entitled to apply. Other people may need to first obtain the Court’s permission.

When can I apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

Unless certain limited circumstances apply to your case, you would first need to satisfy the Court that your dispute cannot be solved through mediation. This means that you would have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The mediator will then consider the circumstances of your case and make the appropriate recommendation.

How can I apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

You will need to submit the correct form to the Court together with your form showing that you have either attempted or are exempt from participating in mediation. The Court will then send a copy of your application to the other parent and list the case for a first hearing. This first hearing is known as a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA).

How will the Court decide my case?

The Court will consider the circumstances of each case individually to ensure that any Order would be in the child’s best interests.  In determining whether an Order would be in the child’s best interests, the Court will have regard to certain factors collectively referred to as the ‘Welfare Checklist’.  This includes factors such as the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.  Where possible, the Court will also have regard to the child’s own expressed wishes and feelings.

How much will I have to pay to make an application?

We offer a fixed fee for preparing your application at £75.00 (exc. VAT) and to represent you at the First Hearing for £499.00 (exc. vat). Please note that there will also be a Court issue fee of £215.00 although you may qualify for a fee exemption.

Please note that there may be more hearings and work to complete beyond the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment. This would not be covered by the initial fixed fee. However, if necessary, we would be happy to discuss your case with you to work out the most appropriate fee arrangement going forward.  Please note that we can represent you at further hearings from £400.00 (exc. vat) – please see our Hearing Representation page.

You may qualify for Legal Aid if you satisfy the gateway for this work

Can the Court deal with any other matters concerning my child?

The Court can also deal with several other issues such as granting you permission to change your child’s surname or move abroad with them. The Court can also take steps to ensure that your ex-partner does not unlawfully remove your child from your care.