If you’re a separated parent and haven’t been able to come to an agreement on arrangements for your child, you may wish to consider applying for a Child Arrangement Order. This is a legally binding order made by the court that outlines the arrangements for a child, namely where they will live and how they would spend their time with the other parent (or whether they would live with both parents in a shared arrangement).
To apply for this order, you will need to complete and submit a C100 form. Below, we walk you through a simple step-by-step process for completing this form accurately.
Before Making an Application
Before starting to fill out the form, there are three things that should be done:
1. Determine whether you need to attend a MIAM
Since 2014, it has been a legal requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before applying to the court for child-related reasons. In most cases, you will need to attend a MIAM before completing the C100, as your attendance must be confirmed within the form (you can find a local mediator here). However, there are some exceptions. Contact us to see if you qualify for exemption.
2. Ensure you can pay the fee
It currently costs £232 to submit a C100 form, so it is important that you have the financial resources needed to make an application. Credit and debit card payments are accepted. If you are in receipt of benefits such as JSA or ESA, or you are on a low income (usually under £1170 per month if you are single), you may qualify for assistance with court fees. You can apply for support online to check if you are eligible.
3. Decide how you want to apply
There are two ways to submit a C100 form: online, or via post. Where possible, it’s recommended to apply online to avoid the need to send physical documents that could get lost. If applying by post, the form can be downloaded here and is also available in large print. You can apply online here. If applying online, it is worthwhile looking through a paper document first to understand what questions will be asked.
Completed paper forms should be sent to your local Family Court. You can check online for the address of your local family court at: https://www.find-court-tribunal.service.gov.uk/search-option
Step 1: Details Pages
The first two pages of the C100 form ask for basic information about your application.
On the first page, you will be required to confirm that you understand the legal requirement to attend an MIAM before applying, unless you qualify for exemption.
On the second page, provide the name of the applicant (yourself) and the respondent (the other parent), and confirm the nature of the application. There are three orders that can be granted with a C100. In this case, select ‘Child Arrangements Order’.
Confirm whether there is a risk of harm (if so, provide details using the C1A form), and answer the questions that ask for any additional information about your application.
Most questions are straightforward. However, one that can cause confusion relates to whether you are asking permission to apply for an order. In most cases, if you are the child’s parent, you will NOT need to ask for permission. Contact us for more information
Before leaving this page, remember to add your Help With Fees number at the top if you are receiving financial assistance with paying court fees. Otherwise, move onto Step 2.
Step 2: Child Details
This page is relatively straightforward, and asks for basic information about the child or children that you are applying for a Child Arrangement Order for. Watch out for the question regarding parental responsibility which can sometimes be confusing. You can find out more about who automatically has parental responsibility for a child here.
Step 3: MIAM
This page asks you to confirm whether you have attended a MIAM, or whether you are applying for an exemption. In most cases, you will simply need to tick ‘Yes’ to question 2d which asks if you have attended a MIAM. If, however, you are applying for a Child Arrangement Order to finalise an agreement you and the other parent have already made, you will not be required to attend such a meeting, and can answer ‘no’.
Your mediator will need to confirm that the meeting was attended.
If you are applying for an exemption, answer ‘yes’ to question 2b, which asks if you are claiming exemption from the requirement to attend a MIAM. Valid reasons include:
● Domestic violence
● Previous MIAM attendance for the same issue
● Inability to attend meeting due to disability
● Inability to contact the respondent
● Respondent is detained or institutionalised
● Respondent lives abroad
● Lack of availability of local mediators
At NLS, we can advise on eligibility for exemption, and can complete this section of the form on your behalf. If applying for an exemption, further details must be provided by ticking the necessary boxes within the relevant section. It is suggested that you attach a copy of the relevant exemption document within the application..
Step 4: Reasons for Application
This page asks you to share your reasons for applying for a Child Arrangement Order. You do not need to provide comprehensive details here, but should instead offer a brief summary of the situation. For example, you may note that you are separated and cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement for child care with the respondent.
Step 5: Additional Information
If you selected any of the boxes in the ‘Additional Information’ box on page 1 of the C100 form – for example, the need for an urgent hearing, or an international element – you can use the relevant sections here to provide more details about these needs.
Step 6: Attending Court
This section can be used to provide information about any additional needs that you, the respondent, or the child may have when attending court. Examples include:
● Translation services
● Interpretation services
● Special needs eg. wheelchair access
● Separate waiting area to the respondent
Step 7: Contact Details
Here, you will need to provide name, date of birth, and address details for both yourself and, where possible, for the respondent. Complete as many of the boxes as possible.
If you are concerned about your personal details being shared with the respondent, complete the C8 Confidential Contact Details form and include it with your submission.
If you do not know where the respondent lives, complete the C4 form.
Step 8: Solicitor Details
If you have appointed a solicitor to act on your behalf, their details should be added here. When working with an NLS solicitor, we can provide these details for you, or we can enter these details on your behalf when working with you to complete the form.
Step 9: Sign & Submit
At the back of the form you will find a helpful checklist that you can use to ensure that all relevant sections have been completed. When you are finished, sign the Statement of Truth and confirm how you wish to pay the fees. If choosing to pay via credit or debit card, you should be contacted within 3 working days and asked to pay via phone.
If submitting a paper form, you should send at least three copies to your local Family Court.
What Happens Next?
If your application is accepted, a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing earing will be arranged. This will include both parents attending court to attempt to reach an amicable arrangement, with the assistance of Cafcass advising the Court and discussing the case with both parents, and if appropriate, the child
If an arrangement cannot be agreed upon, the Judge will communicate the next steps in the process. Remember, if you require support at this time, we’re always here to help.