The Court Process

This page details the Court process when applying for a Child Arrangements Order, Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order. Our specialist solicitors are highly experienced and will guide you through this complex area of law. 

Please contact us to discuss your situation and to find out how we can help you. We can be contacted on 0113 244 6978 or click here to request a free consultation using the online booking form and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM)

Before issuing an application, a prospective applicant must attend a MIAM and invite your former partner to attend, unless an exemption applies. At these meetings, a mediator discusses the dispute with each party and assesses whether other forms of dispute resolution (such as family mediation, collaborative law or arbitration) can assist in resolving the dispute.

Application to the court

If the other party refuses to attend the MIAM or an exemption applies to the requirement to attend a MIAM, an application can be made to the court.

You can make an application by completing Form C100 and lodging this at your local family court. Form C100 should be accompanied by the court fee of £215. A C1A form should also be used if you are alleging harm against the child by the other parent.

Court Hearing 1 - First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA)

All parties must attend the FHDRA. A representative from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) will attend as well. The CAFCASS officer advises the court on what they consider to be in the child’s best interests. They will get in touch with before the hearing to establish what it is you think is in the child’s best interests. They will also undertake police and social services checks. This information will be contained within a report called a CAFCASS Safeguarding Letter.

At the FHDRA, the CAFCASS officer and the judge will try to help the parties agree a resolution of the issues. If an agreement can be reached about all or part of the dispute, the court can make an order recording the agreement.

If agreement cannot be reached, the court will identify the remaining disputed issues.  To help it decide the application, CAFCASS might be ordered to prepare a further report on specific issues and the best way to resolve them. This can involve a CAFCASS officer visiting the parties’ homes, meeting and speaking to them and other significant adults (such as the child’s teachers) and the child on one or more occasion. This is called a Section 7 report.

At the end of the FHDRA, depending on the issues for resolution, the court will either schedule a dispute resolution appointment or a final hearing.

Court Hearing 2 - Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA)

A DRA is usually scheduled if CAFCASS have been directed to produce a report. The court will identify the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties and try to broker a final agreement. If an agreement is reached, the court will make an order reflecting the parties agreement.

If no final agreement is reached at the DRA, the court will direct the parties to file a statement and arrange a final hearing.  The statement will need to set out what orders each party wants the Court to make and the reasons for this.

Court Hearing 3 - Final hearing

Once all relevant evidence has been prepared and submitted to the court, a final hearing will be held when a Judge will consider all of the evidence and decide about the issues in dispute.

In the small number of cases that proceed to a final hearing, the court will hear oral evidence from the parties and sometimes from other witnesses. If a CAFCASS report has been prepared, the officer may also be required to attend court to give evidence. Anyone who gives evidence will be asked questions about their written evidence by their own legal representative, the other parties legal representatives and sometimes by the judge.

Talk to Us

Court proceedings can be very complex and a solicitor should be used wherever possible. Contact our family law solicitors in Leeds today to discuss your situation and to find out how we can assist you. We can be contacted on 0113 244 6978 or click here to request a free consultation using the online booking form and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.