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Court Order Process: What Happens After?

There is a specific form to use when you apply for a court order to make arrangements for a child. Check the cost of the application and what happens after you apply for a court order.

Apply for ‘Child Arrangements’ Court Order

Application for a court order has 3 steps under the Children Act 1989:

  1. Read the family court applications guide involving children (CB1).
  2. Fill in Form C100. As a rule, you need to show you already attended a meeting about mediation (excludes cases involving domestic abuse).
  3. Send the original form with three (3) copies to the nearest family court dealing with cases that involve children.

The current cost to apply for this kind of court order is £232.

Note: Check through a list of current court fees and interest charges. You might qualify for financial help if you get a low income or welfare benefits.

After Applying for a Court Order

In most cases, the mother or the father of the child would apply for a court order. The court would then arrange a ‘directions hearing’ with both of the parents.

A family court adviser from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service would usually attend the hearing as well. During the hearing, a judge or magistrate will assess:

  • What areas of the child arrangement you agree on.
  • Which areas are causing a problem for reaching an agreement.
  • Whether the disagreements are putting the child at risk in any way.

Note: You will receive information from ‘Cafcass‘ before the hearing takes place. As a rule, they will contact you by telephone.

The panel will encourage the ex-partners to reach an agreement – providing it is in the best interests of the child. The judge or the magistrate can end the process if you reach an agreement and there are no concerns about the welfare of the child.

It is not uncommon for the court to make a consent order. Its purpose it to set out what the parents have agreed at the hearing.

If the First Court Hearing Does Not Produce an Agreement

Either the judge or the magistrate will set out a timetable on what happens next. They might ask you to attend a meeting with a mediator to help reach an agreement.

You may need to attend a course on the ‘Separated Parents Information Programme’. The ultimate aim is to help both parents find a way to make their child arrangements work.

As a rule, you will need to attend several meetings. It will depend on which type of programme you get enrolled into. Even so, your ex-partner will not be in attendance at the meetings that you go to.

Note: Reaching an agreement at any stage of the court order process means the judge or the magistrate can stop the proceedings. Read further details on the ‘Separated Parents Information Programme‘ (SPIP).

Cafcass Officer Reports

The court might want Cafcass to file a report on the case. Their role helps to decide what is best for the welfare and upbringing of the child. The Cafcass officer might talk to your child and ask them about their feelings.

Note: Cafcass will provide a copy of the report to both parents once it gets written.

What a Judge and Magistrate will Consider

The primary considerations of the judge or magistrate will always be the welfare of children. Thus, they will be thinking about:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child, including their physical, emotional, and educational needs.
  • The effect that any changes agreed upon might have on the child.
  • The child’s age, their gender, background, and characteristics.
  • Any possible risk of harm coming to the child.
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child based on what orders the court has the power to make.

Note: The judge or magistrate will not grant a court order unless they think it’s in the best interests of the child.

Changing an Application

Use Form C2 to make an application in existing court proceedings relating to children. Filling in this form means you want to change an application that the court is still considering. The fee that you pay the court will depend on whether:

  • You still want the court to decide the case through a court hearing (the court fee is £167).
  • Whether both ex-partners have already agreed and you want the court to approve your consent order without a court hearing (the court fee is £53).

How to Apply for a ‘Child Arrangements’ Court Order in the United Kingdom