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The Court and Cafcass – How Decisions are made if Parents can’t Agree

Tags: legal advice, court, the court and cafcass, how decisions are made if parents cant agree, legal advice for separating, court procedures for separation
Content Types: Legal
Categories: Separating

Before applying to court to sort out arrangements for your children you should make every effort to negotiate an agreement with the other parent.

You will be expected to have considered using mediation by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Mediation has a good success rate but doesn't work for everyone. If mediation doesn't go ahead or breaks down and you have to apply for a court order about children, you will need to fill in a form C100. It’s a very detailed form and it’s important that every section is filled in correctly. The mediator will need to sign this form to confirm that mediation has been considered unless an exemption applies. 

 Watch Making your application to court for more guidance.

Before you see a judge you will be contacted by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

Cafcass officers are independent, qualified in social work and experienced in working with children and families. They will make enquiries to see if there any risk factors for you or the children, for example, if Social Services are involved or if there are records of police involvement with the family.

This information is provided to the court in a report which may also include a suggestion about what should happen next. For example, they may feel that the parents would benefit from using mediation or attending a Separated Parents Information Programme.

The judge may ask you to meet with the Family Court Advisor to see if you can settle matters. Unless it is absolutely necessary, judges prefer not to be in the position of having to impose a decision.

Watch Attending the first hearing for more information.

In the absence of agreement, the judge will decide what evidence they need to make a decision about contact. Evidence may include:

  • A written statement setting out your views on contact
  • A  Cafcass officer’s report which will explain what enquiries have been made and what they think is best for the children.
  • A Cafcass officer’s recommendation

At a final hearing, the judge will make a decision about what contact should take place.

For further information, visit our section on legal advice for separating parents

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  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Just a thought but .....if you applied to court your ex would be forced to take the situation more seriously. She migh.t even do mediation. You can fill in the forms yourself and you don't need a solicitor to represent yourself.

    Thu 1, Jan 2015 at 1:12pm
  • Dandelion_pic elli Flag

    Hi Willm2... I'm glad you're seeing your children but it's especially hard over Christmas to feel that you can't just see them when you and they want. You're certainly not alone in that struggle. If you post on the forum you are likely to get more responses.

    Wed 31, Dec 2014 at 10:59am
  • User-anonymous willm2 Flag

    hi ... ive tird mediation twice and my ex didnt go to neither , she dictates everything about my kids even if they call in to see me on a day thats i`m not supposed to have them?? her words were i`m the mum and they live with her so she has final say on everything??? i broke up with her 4 years ago after she had an afair ... then she moved her new bloke in a week after i left??? and told all my kids that i`d had an afair which was just not true ... she actually told my daughter that she hates looking at her face because she reminds her of me??/ ... i do still see my kids but i`m lucky if its 12 hours a week .... since i left ive never had a xmas dinner with them nor spent new years eve with them ..i`m not allowed ... my kids called me one night crying asking me to go see them as her mum and partner were argueing in the st ... when i got there police were all outside and wouldnt let me see my kids??? my ex told them they argues because of me??? so the police blamed me and told me to go or i`d be arrested ??? really theres no help for dads out there ... i`m a ful time carer and dont have the money to take her to court and even then i`m worried that i wont get to see them at all .... ive never felt more down in my life .... most mums would be happy their childrens dad wanted to see them ... ive never missed a birthday ..xams ... school play ..well apart from the one she didnt tell me about ... so i`m really at a loss ive tried mediation but she wont go and i cant afford court ,,,, any help would be appreciated tho i doubt anything will

    Tue 30, Dec 2014 at 12:43am