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As part of the standard divorce process the court requires you to provide information on the arrangements that have been put in place for the children of the marriage.  For example, who the children will live with and what school they will attend.  The Government is proposing to remove this requirement except where there are disputes over the arrangements.

Where a married couple have dependent children the Court will not allow the divorce to proceed unless it is satisfied with the arrangements made for them.

This is the Court’s first responsibility under section 25(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act. You will therefore need to complete the Statement of Arrangements for Children on Form D8A which you must submit with the divorce petition on Form D8. It is a very straightforward form to complete.

The Court must consider the welfare of any ‘child of the family’, regardless of whether that child is yours biologically. Parents’ financial responsibility for their children continues beyond the age of 16, and so the Court will take that into account, even if the child is at university. The Court is obliged to consider these arrangements and may delay the Final Order (Decree Absolute) until arrangements are agreed. It is obviously far better that you should agree these matters than have the Court decide them for you.

Unlike the old version of the form, the new D8A does not contain provision for children who are not ‘children of the family’, such as those born as a result of a mother’s adultery.

The Respondent does not necessarily need to complete a separate form, and should sign the form completed by the Petitioner if he is in agreement.

The Court will send the Respondent a copy of the completed Form D8A and a form D10/D510 (acknowledgment of service) on which to record whether or not he is in agreement. If the father is not in agreement he will be able to complete his own Form D8A setting out alternative proposals and the Court will be required to make a decision.

Guidance on filling out Form D8A is available in Leaflet D185, Children and Divorce. If you don’t have any of this information state that it is ‘Not Known’.

Write in black ink and BLOCK CAPITALS. To start the form, fill out the heading with the name of the Court, your full name and your spouse’s full name and the reference number of the case, if you know it.

Part 1 Details of the Children


1. State whether the details of your children given in the divorce petition are correct or not; if not give corrected information in the box.

Part 2 Arrangements for the children of the family

A ‘child of the family’ means any step child or child whom you regard as yours even though they are not biologically related to you. Foster children are not ‘children of the family’.

Living arrangements


2. Enter the names of the children, who the resident parent is and where they live.

3. State whether or not this arrangement is agreed and if not give details.

4. Detail the contact arrangements (if any) with the non-resident parent, including overnight staying contact.

5. State whether or not these arrangements are agreed and if not give details.

6. State who will undertake the day-to-day care of the children – this will normally be the resident parent, but may also be a grandparent, nanny, etc.

7. State whether or not this arrangement is agreed and if not give details.

Education


8. Give details of the children’s places of education.

9. State whether or not there will be any foreseen changes to these arrangements as a result of the separation – including payment of school fees – and if so give details.

10. State whether or not any of your children has special educational needs and if so give details.

 

Details of health


11. State whether or not your children are in good health. If they are not in good health and put the details in the box. Only mention serious health problems.

12. State whether or not your children have any special health needs; if they do give details in the box and explain how the needs are being met.

Details of care and other court proceedings


13. State whether or not the children are in the care of the local authority, or under the supervision of a social worker or probation officer. If they are give details in the box. Include details of current court proceedings.

14. State whether or not any of your children is the subject of a Child Protection Plan. If so give details of the local authority and date of registration.

15. State whether or not there have been any court proceedings regarding the children. If there have, give details in the box and make sure you attach a copy of the order.

Also as part of Question 15 state whether any child maintenance arrangement has been made or is pending.

State whether or not you have agreed a child maintenance arrangement and if you have give details.

16. State whether or not there are, or have been, any other court proceedings which impact on the children.

Part 3 To the Petitioner


Complete this part only if you are the petitioner.

Mediation


17. If you have not agreed arrangements for your children with the Respondent, state whether or not you will seek to do so, use mediation, or make an application to the Court.

Statement of Truth


Enter your full name, and sign and date the form.

Part 4 To the Respondent

Complete this part only if you are the respondent.

State whether or not you agree with the Petitioner’s proposals and whether or not you would agree to mediation. Sign and date the form.

Be careful how you fill out the form; the Court will be looking for gaps, for example in the child’s education, or times when the child is not being looked after by an adult, or for other causes of concern.

If the Court is satisfied with the arrangements for the children it will send you Form D84B/ D584B (notice of satisfaction with the arrangements for the children) and the divorce will proceed.

If the Court is not satisfied you will be sent a copy of Form D66 (notice that decree should not be made absolute) or Form D566 (notice that conditional order should not be made final).

You may simply need to provide some more information. Alternatively you will need to see the judge together to discuss the arrangements. It is possible that the judge will direct CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to prepare a welfare report.

If arrangements still cannot be agreed, you will have to apply to the Court for a Residence or Contact Order using Form C100, which is covered in another Wikivorce How-To guide.