Issues Surrounding Children

Issues surrounding children such as residence/contact/applications to remove from the jurisdiction.

Hopefully arrangements between separating parents can be agreed on separation/divorce. Mediation is often very helpful in reaching agreements. If agreement is possible then normally no court orders are made. If there are disputes such as where a child will live, how often they see the other parent, where the child will go to school or if one parent wishes to leave the UK then the Court may become involved.

Who may apply

Directions Hearing

This is the first hearing and there will be a meeting with Cafcass officer (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Officer) initially to see if agreement can be reached. Solicitors are not permitted to be present at the is meeting. If no agreement is reached a Judge will give directions as to filing of statements by both parties and investigation by Cafcass officer. If the child is of sufficient age a report may be ordered to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child.

Statements Filed

Cafcass officer normally wants to see both parents and the children to prepare a report. This will include a session with each parent and the children together. This is usually done 14-16 weeks after the directions hearing. He/she will see copies of statements filed.

Report Filed

Usually following filing of report there is a further directions hearing to see if more statements are needed and setting the matter down for a final hearing. Sometimes further expert evidence is needed from medical experts and this can cause delay and expense.

Final Hearing

If agreement cannot be reached after the filing of the report then a final hearing will take place. Both parties will have to give evidence and the Judge will make a decision.

Legal Costs

It is not usual for an order for costs to be made in these proceedings. It is almost certain that you will be responsible for your own legal costs.