Children and dissolution
Will the Court be concerned with all the children of the civil partnership?
No, only those who still need your care and financial support because of their age and circumstances.
You will have to name all living children of the family, no matter how old they are when you fill in your petition. The Court will be concerned with any child who was born to you or the Respondent, or who has been treated by you as though they had been born to you, who is under 16 or between 16 and 18 and still at college or school full time. These children are referred to as “children of the family”. This also includes children that either or both of you have adopted but does not include foster children.
Why do I have to give the Court details about the children?
The Court must consider the proposed arrangements for the children after the dissolution, and in exceptional circumstances it can hold up the final order until satisfactory arrangements are made for them.
What will the Court want to know?
The Court will want to know:
- Where they live;
- Who they live with;
- Whether the other parent will see them and how often;
- About their day-to-day care;
- About their health;
- Where they will go to school;
- What financial support they will receive; and
- Special arrangements to help or protect them have been made.
Does this mean I must ask the Court to make orders about all these things?
No, it is better if you, the Respondent and the children (if they are old enough) can agree these things without the Court having to make an order. Whether or not you and the Respondent agree about the children, the Court will only make an order about them if it would be better for the children than making no order at all.
How will I tell the Court about the arrangements proposed for the children?
When you start your dissolution you must fill in form D8A (statement of arrangements for children) which sets out the proposals you are making. The Respondent can also sign the form to show they agree with what you propose.
What will happen if the Respondent will not sign form D8A?
The Court will send the Respondent a copy of the form with your petition and will be asked to fill in form D510(6) (acknowledgement of service) to say whether or not they agree with what you have proposed. If they do not agree they can complete their own D8A and send it to the Court, who will send you a copy.
When will the Judge consider the arrangements for the children?
The Court will send you form D584B (notice of satisfaction with the arrangements for the children) which will tell you that the Court does not need to “exercise its powers under the Children Act 1989”. This will be sent to you both with form D584A which tells you when your conditional order will be made.
What can the Judge decide if he is not satisfied with the proposed arrangements for the children?
In exceptional circumstances he can decide you cannot obtain your final order until satisfactory arrangements are made for the children. He may decide that:
- Further information about the children is required;
- An appointment should be fixed for you both to see the Judge about the children in a private Judge’s room (“chambers”).
- A welfare report should be prepared about the children and sent to the Court.
- A Court order be made in respect of the children.
What kind of orders can the Court make?
- Child Arrangement order (formerly called Contact and residence orders)
Following the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014 which came into force on 22 April 2014, “contact” and “residence” orders are no more. Instead, there is now a single order, a “child arrangements order”, which deals with the arrangements as to “with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact” and “when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
- Prohibited Steps order
To prevent a named person taking certain steps.
- Specific issue order
To provide how a particular matter should be handled when the parties cannot come to an agreement.The Court can also make “care” or “emergency protection” orders where the children are abused or at risk of harm
Where do I apply for financial support?
You should apply to the CSA/CMS for financial support for a child which is not for a lump sum payment. In all other cases, you should apply to the Court, including cases where the Respondent is a step-parent of the child.
If you have any questions or need any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.