Before you begin proceedings you should consider Mediation. In mediation, an impartial, trained mediator, not connected with your case, helps you and your partner to resolve your disputes.
Mediation is not about getting back together. It is a chance for couples who are splitting to meet with someone who has been properly trained. This will help you to make arrangements for the future to work out plans for any number of things, including your children, your money, or your home.
You should attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before you apply to court (there are exemptions to this rule, and details are included on our detailed guide on Mediation).
You can find your nearest family mediation service by visiting the government´s website DirectGov (www.direct.gov.uk) and search using the words ´family mediation´. You will find a database of accredited family mediation services on the website.
The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting does not take long and will provide you with an assessment of the situation and whether mediation could solve your problems. Depending on your personal circumstances you may need to pay for the meeting. It´s important to bear in mind that successful mediation can reduce costs for you in the long-term.
Public funding may be available from the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) service. The CLA telephone number is 0845 345 4 345 and you can access their website here.
You may also want to refer to our Mediation guide:
´Parenting Plans: Putting children first - A guide for separating parents´ is a free booklet for separating parents designed to help parents reach agreement about contact and other arrangements for their children following parental separation or divorce. You can download a copy below:
You can get a copy of a Welsh version from any CAFCASS CYMRU office or any Welsh court.
´Parenting Plans´ explore a range of issues you may need to consider in making contact and other arrangements for your children, and includes practical examples of how other parents in a variety of family structures and circumstances have resolved problems. It also provides a list of organisations that can provide further advice and help.
The court makes most decisions about children using a law, called the Children Act 1989. If you want the court to make a decision about a child you need to apply to the court for an ´order´. An order will be made when the judge makes a decision.
Some of the orders you may wish to apply for are described below. These are just some of the decisions a court can make under the Children Act 1989.
A court will only make an order if it thinks that would be best for the child. Sometimes a court may decide that it would be best not to make any order.
A court might:
If the court makes an order it will be based on what the court believes is best for your child. This might mean that you, or the other person will not get exactly what you have asked for.
Once a case has started a court may make other decisions. These include:
Visit our guide to find out:
We provide various guides relating to crisis situations (buttons below in blue are active; buttons below in white will be available soon):Domestic Violence Domestic Abduction (UK) Emergency Protection Orders Internal Relocation International Child Abduction Leave to Remove Parental Alienation Paternity Testing Psychological Assessments
Leave to Remove cases concern applications to the court by a parent who seeks the court´s permission to emigrate with the children (required where other parents and holders of parental responsibility refuse their consent).
If you have a residence or contact order, these will be treated as child arrangements orders, albeit parents will still be classified as the person with whom the child lives, spends time with or otherwise has contact.
You can also refer to our guides on:
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Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales
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