Childcare Arrangements Overview
When possible your first steps should be to voluntarily agree childcare arrangements with your partner. If you and your partner can not reach a agreement, the you will both need to attend mediation. When you have a agreement, you can have this written up in to a parenting agreement. A parenting agreement is not a legal contract and isn’t intended to be enforced by the court. A parenting agreement is to help separated parents stay out of court by encouraging both parents to make practical and workable childcare arrangements by themselves. It will give both parents a valuable opportunity to sit down and discuss how you both would like your children to be raised after your separation, and give you both the chance to discuss your children and their upbringing, and covers all aspects of your children’s lives. A parenting agreement shows a willingness to co-operate and agree between the parents.
If you are unable to come to a agreement for childcare arrangements with your partner, then either you or your partner will need to apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order, where the court will decide the arrangements. A Child Arrangements Order will state who the children will live with, when the child is to live with any other person, and the parent who the child will visit and or contact with. Before you can submit a C100 application to the court, you will need to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting with a mediator, the mediator will assess if you are both suitable for mediation. The mediator will sign the appropriate part of the C100 form, once its fully completed you can then submit it to the court, the court fees will cost £253. The parent that makes the application is called the applicant, while the other parent is called the respondent.
Once an application to the court has been made then, unless agreement is reached, a full interim hearing will take place. This usually involves each party (and any witnesses they intend to call) filing a written statement, and the court appointing a CAFCASS officer to investigate and prepare a report for the court. This can involve a number of hearings, and can take a number of months to complete.
Once the interim hearing has been completed, a final hearing will be fixed when the court will listen to the evidence and, if appropriate, make a Child Arrangements Order.