Are you looking for help with Children Act 1989 proceedings? I am a public access Barrister who has helped many clients with applications and continue to provide support to families going through Court.
In this short article I will guide you through some essential facts about Children Act 1989 proceedings. Take a look at my associated articles dealing with Child Arrangements Orders.
When advising clients about the process, which is often daunting because it is unfamiliar to most people, I find that there are some key points everyone should be aware of. Knowing some of this information will help you navigate through the process a little easier.
How do I obtain a Child Arrangements Order?
A Child Arrangements Order is applied for using the C100 form and by paying the necessary fee. This application can be made online on the www.gov.uk website. Alternatively, an application can be made on paper using the same form.
Before an application is submitted, you will need to have considered whether mediation is appropriate by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). There are some exceptions to this, such as where there is alleged domestic abuse for example.
You will have to send your form and three copies to the nearest Court that deals with cases involving children.
What are the stages in Children Act Proceedings?
After your application has been submitted, the Court will arrange a ‘directions hearing’. This is usually attended by both parents and a representative from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). CAFCASS will contact you before the hearing too.
CAFCASS may produce a report on the best interests of the child(ren) to help the Court decide how to proceed. The parents will get a copy of the report when it is written too.
At the directions hearing the judge will consider what you can agree on and where the gaps are. They will also review whether the child(ren) is at risk in any way too.
Parental Encouragement to Agree Outcomes
The judge will encourage you to talk and agree the terms, if possible. They will then make a Consent Order which details what you have agreed between you.
Where No Agreement is Reached
If you cannot agree the terms at the directions hearing, the judge will direct what happens next. They may instruct that you use mediation or try again to reach an agreement.
You may be required to attend a child arrangements course called a Separated Parents Information programme. If so, you and your ex-partner will attend different meetings so that you will not need to see each other.
Court Imposed Orders
If the Court must make an Order, the welfare and best interests of children are paramount. The Court will consider the following:
- The child’s wishes and feelings
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The effect any changes may have on the child
- The child’s age, gender, characteristics and background
- Whether there is possible risk of harm to the child
- The ability of parents to meet the child’s needs
- The orders the court has the power to make
Making Changes to an Existing Application
It is possible to change an existing application. You need to use form C2 and pay the relevant fee. It is more expensive to ask the Court to make the decisions and cheaper if you simply want the Court to approve your agreement by way of a Consent Order.
If you need assistance with any of the above issues or require support with your application, please contact Sima directly by calling 02073531746 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.