We hope this guide will assist you with the processes relating to children law matters.
Children proceedings for Child Arrangement Orders
A Child Arrangement Order states with whom the child is to live with and provides for a child to see the other parent and sets out a framework of the contact days and times each week and during school holidays.
A Children Application is filed at Court by eithert parents and the Court Office would then issue the Application and fix a date for the first hearing. A fee will have to be paid for the application unless you are on benefits and so may get a dispensation on fees.
First Directions Hearing This is an initial hearing to consider and review the relevant issues in the case.
Conciliation Appointment This would occur where there is an opportunity to reach an agreement on whom the child is to live with and spend time with the other parent.
If an agreement is not reached at the the Conciliation Appointment the Court can consider directions for the parties to files statements for a CAFCASS Officer to be appointed to prepare a Welfare Report and for CAFCASS to guide the Court about the best interests of the child.
The Court can make some preliminary decisions if the case is urgent or there are some risk factors.
The case is then usually listed some 12 weeks later for a review hearing where matters can then be considered in light of the welfare report.
If an agreement is not reached at the review hearing then the Court will fix a date for a final hearing and allocate sufficient time to hear the case and each parent will ultimately provide and present their evidence to the Court.
If their are specific issues in dispute (e.g. an allegation of domestic violence which is denied) and needs to be adjudicated on the Court may list the case for a Fact Finding Hearing where the parties will provide and present their evidence to the Court on the specific issue.
CAFCASS and ultimately the Court will consider a check list of factors when dealing with children applications such as:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child (in light of his/her age and understanding)
- His/her physical, emotional and educational needs
- The likely effects on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances
- His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/hers which the Court considers relevant
- Any harm he/she has suffered or is risk of suffering
- How capable each of the parents are, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, of meeting his/her needs
An Order can be granted by the Court upon consent of parents where they have agreed terms or by Order of the Judge where the matters remains in dispute
Other Orders to include Specific Issue Orders (to determine a specific question relating to a child (e.g. name, schooling, health and so on) and a Prohibited Steps Order (which can provide protective measures for a child) can also be dealt with and by adopting a similar procedure.