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We argued continually about the child arrangements.
This was very upsetting for all of us. We then decided to go to family mediation as things were getting worse. We saw a mediator and both put forward our suggestions. We both work full time but wanted to share the care of our children equally. At mediation we decided to try alternate weeks. The children were happy with this and so were we. This solution cut down on the collections and returns and has stopped any further arguing between us. We had a Parenting Agreement prepared at the conclusion. We were both really thankful to the mediator for the end result. (Client Stories)
When parents separate children are often caught in the middle and can be adversely affected. Mediation is the first step in working towards reaching solutions. Mediators help parents to discuss the child arrangements amicably with a view to reaching mutual solutions. These are then set out in an agreement such as a parenting agreement. Mediation is a highly successful service and is recommended by the court as the most effective method of resolving disputes.
There are many benefits such as the cost of mediation is a fraction of the cost of using solicitors or going to court. Mediation is fast, effective and less stressful then using solicitors or attending court.
However, if parents are unable to agree on the arrangements for their children, then the only other option is an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order. Before applying to court parents are asked to attend Mediation to undertake a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). There are situations where couples are exempt from attending a MIAM, for example, if there is a history of violence and/or abuse in the relationship or you do not have your former partners address or contact details. After the MIAM appointment either parent is free to make an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order.
The Court Application and Process
1. The Applicant can make an application to the Court for an Order using Form C100.
2. CAFCASS Safeguarding Report – The Children and Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS) will prepare a safeguarding report about the background to the case, for both parents and the Judge. This report is submitted to Court, prior to further discussion between the legal representatives and the Judge.
3. First Hearing - This is the first court hearing and where the Judge reads the CAFCASS Report and will hear the preliminary issues that exist between the parties. The Judge will consider what further evidence is needed to resolve those issues and will set deadlines for the parties to submit necessary evidence. This can include the parties’ submitting Statements, further Reports by CAFCASS /Social Services, and third-party Witness Statements if necessary. No Order can be made at court without agreement between the parties.
4. Dispute Resolution Hearing – This is the second hearing and is designed to narrow the issues between the parties. The Judge, the parties and their legal advisers will consider the evidence that was directed by the judge and try to find a way to resolve the issues. The Judge can, at this Hearing only, give an indication as what could possibly be ordered at a Final Hearing if the parties are unable to come to an agreement. If there is no resolution then the Judge can order further directions, which will include the listing of the third Final Hearing.
5. Final Hearing – The Judge will hear oral evidence from the parties, any witnesses and read any such Statements and Reports in support of their case. A Final Order is made by the Judge and legally binding on the parties.
Contact us for more information, We will advise and support you.