May 08 2023
In a perfect world, co-parenting, once through the more emotional and stressful moments of separation, would be free of disputes. Unfortunately, even with co-parenting relationships that are good, the occasional dispute can happen. And sometimes, those disputes are not able to be corrected without the help of the courts.
In these instances, understanding how to navigate the UK family court system is important so that co-parenting disputes are worked through quickly and with limited effects on your children. For this reason, while we hope that 2houses would avoid these situations, we are here to give you some important understandings on navigating the UK family court system for any co-parenting disputes that can’t be mediated out of court.
When you are dealing with co-parenting, there can be a number of disputes. Often, this occurs because of financials, or it could simply be around visitation or one parent moving. If you are the primary caregiver, you may feel that you have the right to make decisions without the input of your ex-partner; however, it should be noted that both parents have to make big decisions together.
And it is these big decisions that often create the higher risk of disputes needing the courts to make the final decision. So what are some disputes that occur_decisions both parents need to make?
There are many other reasons that you can end up in the UK family court system, but these are often some of the more frequent reasons. So now let’s look how to navigate through them.
Before you head to filing an application to the court, you should decide on whether or not your case warrants court action, or can even be heard by the court. If it is something that is particularly minor, you and your ex-partner should look at mediation instead of going through the court. Even larger disputes can be done through mediation and are usually faster and less expensive than a court case is. For more tips on mediation in the UK, read our article on mediation.
In the event that you cannot go through mediation to work through this dispute, make sure you understand what you are filing. A family lawyer can help you with this, but for a quick understanding, the family court can rule on the following:
When a court makes these orders, they do so with the child’s best interests in mind.
If you have reached the stage where mediation is not working, you can file an application to the family court to have a judge make the decision. When filing an arrangement, there are a few considerations that you should follow.
Most applications for the UK family court is done on the C100 form. This can be downloaded from the gov.co.uk website. However, you can file right online now, or you can submit a paper form. It is important to note that Scotland and Northern Ireland has different steps to file an application so contact a lawyer to do so if you reside in those areas.
One thing to point out is that if there are allegations of domestic violence in your ex-relationship, you will need to file an additional form, which is the C1A form.
Before you get ready to file, be ready to pay the fees. While the fees can change slightly, as of 2023, the fees to file a C100 form is £232.
Most orders will require a notification to the other parent that you are pursuing this dispute in the UK family court system. However, there are times when you can ask that the other parent is not notified. These are known as “without notice” applications and are usually limited to urgent cases with specific steps order or a prohibited steps order. They are only granted in exceptional circumstances but the other parent will need to be notified once an order is in place.
In that instance, the order will only be enforced for a limited time until both cases are heard in full and then a final, more permanent order will be set.
Once you have filed your application, there are three, potentially four, stages that you will go through. These are:
During the entire process, you and your ex-partner will be encouraged to settle the dispute on your own prior to the final hearing.
Navigating the UK family court system can seem daunting but when you understand the process and understand what you can ask for in regard to court orders, you will find it much easier to navigate. Hopefully, you won’t have to go to the final hearing, but if you do, understanding the process will ensure you are more confident walking into court.
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