IF YOU AGREE: Reaching the agreement by yourselves for looking after your children means there is no need for official paperwork.
You can keep a record of what you agree on by having it written down in a Parenting Plan.
There is a way to make your own agreement on child arrangements legal and binding. As a rule, you would need the services of a solicitor to help you draw up the paperwork.
How to Make an Agreement Legally Binding
A solicitor would need to draft a ‘consent order’. You can then ask a court to approve your consent order to make the terms in the agreement ‘legally’ bound.
Making a legal document in the form of a consent order would confirm the agreement made between the two ex-partners. As a rule, it must contain details on how you will both take care of your children, including:
- Where any children under the age of 16 will live.
- Where and when they will spend time with each of the parents.
- What other types of contact can take place and when (e.g. telephone calls).
Note: Both of the ex-partners would need to sign the draft consent order and then get it approved by a court.
Getting a Consent Order Approved
Any of the ex-partners can fill in Form C100. This is how you apply for a court order to make arrangements for a child. You can get help filling in the court form from your solicitor.
You should select the box to show that you are ‘applying for an order to formalise an agreement (consent order)’. In this case, there will be no need to show you already tried mediation.
Send all these documents to the nearest court that deals with cases involving children:
- The draft consent order that your solicitor created for you.
- Form C100 (the original) and three (3) extra copies of the form.
Note: Always keep copies of any forms you send to the courts (including the draft consent order). There will be a small claims court handling fee to pay.
If You Get Court Approval for a Consent Order
In most cases, there should be no need for a court hearing. As a rule, if the judge thinks it is fair (in the children’s interest) the outcome will be to approve the consent order. It will then become legal and binding.
But, if the judge decides that the agreement is not in the children’s best interests, the outcome can either be:
- To change the consent order.
- To make a new court order that considers the best interests of your children.
Note: Read through the ‘Sorting Out Separation’ website for further information on working out what is best for children after a relationship ends.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Making Child Arrangements | Where to get help making joint decisions if you divorce or separate.
Using Mediation Services | How a mediator can help ex-partners agree on parenting plans for children.