A Guide to Getting Divorced with Young Children Part 2: How to make a Child Court Order

In part 2 of this 3-part series, we look at how to make a child court order. The type of order you would submit depends on your individual circumstances. We have covered the three different court orders available in detail in Part 1: What orders can the Court make?

This article is a useful guide if you are currently getting divorced from your spouse but are having disagreements about arrangements for your child or children.

Articles in this series

Part 1: What orders can the Court make?
Part 2: How to make a Child Arrangements Order, Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order
Part 3: What happens after my application has been made

Before you can issue an application: Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

In most cases, before you can submit your child court order application, both parents are required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

At these meetings, a Mediator will try and help both parents to work towards a mutual agreement and resolution of the dispute. There are a lot of benefits to reaching an out of court agreement, for example:

  • You decide what happens, rather than having an arrangement imposed upon you by the Court
  • It can be less stressful
  • It can be quicker
  • It can be significantly cheaper
  • You can be certain of the outcome, rather than speculating what a Court may or may not decide

It is always in the best interest of everyone to avoid going to court where possible. Of course, there are situations where mediation will not resolve the issue, or where it is not appropriate to begin with mediation. In these cases, it will be necessary to send the application to the court to begin proceedings.

There are exceptions to the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. For example, in the case of emergencies or allegations of violence and/or coercion by one party.

Making your application to the Court

The parent issuing the application to the Court will be known as the ‘Applicant’ during the proceedings. The other parent will be known as the ‘Respondent’.

At Astle Paterson, we will complete and confirm the application forms with you before they are lodged at Court. The child court order application lists the type of order being sought, full details of the children and parents, along with a brief summary of why the application is being submitted.

If your application is in response to welfare issues, for example, if a child has been emotionally abused or witnessed violence between the parents, it is necessary to give a brief summary of these events in the application.

Do you have to pay to apply for a Child Court Order?

Yes. When your application is issued to the Court, you also need to lodge a Court fee, which is currently £215.00.

Depending on your financial circumstances, you might be entitled to a reduced fee. This is dependent on your level of income.

In order to qualify for a reduction in the Court fee, your maximum income (before any taxes) must not currently exceed £1,085.00. The allowance increases by an additional £240.00 for each child. This means that if you have one child, you are legible for a reduced fee if your income is less than £1,330.00.

You should not include the following benefits when calculating your income:

  • Carers allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • The child element of working tax credits

If you have savings of less than £3,000, they will not be taken into account. If you are over 61 and your capital doesn’t exceed £16,000, this may also reduce the Court fees due.

Allowances and exemptions can change

Please be aware that Court fees, allowances and exemptions do change periodically. The above guidelines are accurate as of February 2019.

If you are the Respondent, you will be sent a Notice of the Application in the post together with a form acknowledging receipt asking you to answer various questions.

If you also have welfare concerns for the children or wish to make your own application, you can do so at this time.

Enquire for help with Divorce and Separation disputes

If you’re separating from your spouse and are struggling to agree child arrangements, our Divorce and Family Law team are on-hand to assist in applying for a child court order. Our dedicated staff are able to offer advice on your specific needs.

Contact our Divorce team directly

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