So...you've attended a MIAM (see Part 1 of this blog) and there seems to be no way forward for you to agree with your ex-partner on when, where and how you will see your child. The next step, if you think you can afford it and cope with the stress of it, is to commence litigation through the Courts.
For some fathers, it isn't a choice that they can readily make, for a number of reasons. But for those who approach us, it's often something they feel that they've been forced into and they recognise that, although it won't be pleasant, it's the only thing they can do if they want to have an ongoing relationship with their child.
MAKING AN APPLICATION
The court makes most decisions about children using a law, called the Children Act 1989. If you want the court to make a decision about a child, you need to apply to the court for an ‘order’. An order will be made when the judge/panel of magistrates makes a decision.
CHILD ARRANGEMENTS ORDER
A child arrangements order decides the arrangements for whom a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with and where a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person. For example, if your child lives with your ex-partner and you want to see your child at weekends, or you cannot agree which parent the child is to live with, you might want to apply for a child arrangements order.
You do not need to know the law to apply but if you want to read more about the law you need a copy of:
• the Children Act 1989; and
• the Family Procedure Rules.
The accompanying Practice Directions are available on the internet/your local court, or they may be available at your local library.
RIGHT FOR A FATHER TO APPLY
A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s either:
married to the child’s mother
listed on the birth certificate (from 1 December 2003)
has a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
holds a parental responsibility order from a court.
FILLING IN FORM C100
The practical way in which you commence proceedings is by completing a form C100. It is very important that you fill in form C100 carefully. You must provide full details about yourself and the Respondent(s) (the Respondent in usually your ex-partner) or your case will be delayed while the Court asks for the information. CAFCASS (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) need this information to help protect the welfare of the child involved. Both applicants (if there is more than one) have to sign the application form.
The Court will need your address to contact you. They will also give your address to other parties (the other people involved) so that they can give you a copy of their response to your application. If you do not want someone to know your (or the child’s) address, phone number or email address, you do not have to put it on the application form. But you will still have to give your contact details to the court and there is a special form for you to do this. You should fill in form C8 ‘Confidential contact details’ with your application.
Once you've got your C100 form, your C8 form and any relevant attachments e.g. draft Court Order or Statement of Case ready, you're ready to send it all off to the Court and the litigation process will begin.
So, what happens next? Read Part 3 of this blog to find out where you send the paperwork to and what the Court will do with it...
It might help you to read all 3 parts of this blog (Part 1 is on mediation, Part 2 is on completing the appropriate paperwork and Part 3 is on the Court process). We've also produced a podcast which lasts less than 15 minutes and you can listen to it whilst you're out and about. It contains the same information as our blogs, but with a few extra insights thrown in by Isabelle Parasram, our Head of Legal Practice: