With effect from the 19th February 2020 the Court Service (HMCTS) have introduced a new online service to enable separated parents to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order.
Until the 19th February only paper applications could be made which led to errors when forms were filled in incorrectly and postal delays were caused.
A pilot scheme was introduced and of the 8,000 people who used it, 93% were satisfied with the new scheme.
The form is straight forward and takes about 45 minutes to complete.
The new system does not mean that Applicants do not have to consider Mediation and attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before an application is made.
Parties remain legally required to attend a MIAM unless certain exemptions apply.
Once parties have attended a MIAM, the Mediator will complete a form setting out why Mediation is not appropriate, if this is the case, and a Court Application is necessary.
The Applicant has to complete details of the MIAM certification and take the original certificate to the first Court hearing.
If this is not provided the Judge may adjourn the Application for attendance at a MIAM.
Alternatives to Court should be considered by all separated parents trying to see their children.
At Ringrose Family Mediation Service we can help parents try to reach an agreement.
The advantages are:
Mediation is quicker than the Court process.
It can be cheaper than using Lawyers.
It can reduce conflict between parents.
It can help children maintain family relationships.
It can allow flexible arrangements to be made.
The new system incorporates the ability for the Court to make a Consent Order where parents have made a decision about the child arrangements. In those circumstances the Mediator can prepare a Co-Parenting Plan which can be incorporated into a Consent Order.
Legal Aid is available for Mediation subject to a party’s financial circumstances. At Ringrose Family Mediation Service we have a Legal Aid Contract in our offices at Boston, Spalding, Sleaford, Grantham, Newark and Lincoln.