What the Law Says
If you and your partner have children, you MUST agree who they will live with and what contact arrangements are agreed following the end of your relationship. A Court will not grant a divorce until this is agreed, unless of course, you cannot agree, then the Courts will intervene and make a ruling. If they do make a ruling, it is likely there will be a winner and loser. If you can agree beforehand, then the Courts are far more likely to accept your decision and grant the consent order.
A Child Arrangement Order is issued by the Courts. To apply for a consent order, you must complete a C100 (Read More) form and you MUST attempt mediation before so doing. On the very first page of the application, you must sign a declaration stating you have either attended mediation or at least tried. For the latter a Family Mediator will concur.
The exact wording on the form reads:
- I understand that if I have not attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the court CANNOT process my court application unless there are special circumstances.
- I understand that if I cannot show evidence that I do not need to attend a MIAM, the judge may stop proceedings until I have considered mediation.
If You Can Agree
If you and your ex agree on where your children live and the contact arrangements for the other parent then there will be no need for you or your ex to go to court. You can choose whether to negotiate through a solicitor the arrangements for your children, many people do. However, you must be prepared to spend time waiting for communications to be passed and back and forth between your respective lawyers. You must also be prepared for a potentially large bill at the end of it, whether you finally agree or not. Using a mediation service means you can reach settlement quickly and cheaply.
If You Cannot Agree
If you cannot agree, then through an application to the courts, they will make the decision for you. The outcome may mean that neither you or your ex achieve anything like you may of hoped for. Are you willing to allow a stranger (with the law behind them) to make decisions about the future of your children?
If you cannot agree and you have used the services of a mediator, then they will sign a form stating that you have tried mediation and that it has not achieved the desired outcome. Then at least, you will be able to proceed.
What If You or Your Ex Refuse to Mediate?
If you or your ex choose to meet with a mediator, they will invite the other person along to mediate. If there is a refusal, the mediator will sign a C100 form stating you (or your ex) have tried mediation and the other person refused.
It goes without saying that if you then apply to courts for a Child Arrangements Order, it could put you in a stronger position, as the Courts will see that you at least tried.
If you would like a no obligation chat and ask more advice about mediation for Child Arrangements, call one of our advisors on 0330 113 0005