There are a range of application forms to use, the most common, the C100, is to commence family proceedings.
Applying on a C100 costs £215 (as at 2020), but can be free for those who are on benefits or low wage. Before you complete the necessary forms, you need to consider whether court is necessary in your case by considering a few questions.
Do I have to go to court to see my kids?
Not necessarily. You can try to reach a private arrangement with your ex that works for you or you could negotiate a Parenting Plan for your kids that you both agree to. You can even get the court to turn this into a court order (called a Consent order). You can ask a mediator to help if you find it difficult to negotiate with your ex one-to-one.
In general, judges will look more positively on you if you can demonstrate that you have made every effort to seek an agreement without relying on the court. Indeed, the form you fill in asks whether you have tried mediation and, unless it is an emergency, or there are allegations of domestic abuse then it is expected that you will attempt mediation first. Sometimes it works even when you don’t believe there is any hope of that. Either way, the judge is likely to look more favourably on you for making the effort.
When do I go to court?
If it is a matter of extreme urgency or when all other avenues have been exhausted. You will find it useful to attend an FNF Branch meeting to make sure there are no other avenues to a non-court solution, but do not leave this too long. The longer you leave it the harder it will be to re-establish your parenting opportunities. If you have been denied all contact with your child(ren) then applying to court may be the quickest option.
How do I go to court?
The simplest way is to complete a C100 form (available from the internet) and take three copies to your nearest Family Court. This will cost you £215 unless you are on benefits or on a low wage. You can find your nearest Family Court here: https://www.gov.uk/find-court-tribunal?
Can I enter the forms on line?
Yes. Check here for the C100: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c100-application-under-the-children-act-1989-for-a-child-arrangements-prohibited-steps-specific-issue-section-8-order-or-to-vary-or-discharge
If you wish to submit other forms at the same time as the C100, you can fill them in and send to the court by email using the email addresses on the court finder above. You can also ask the court to contact you to take payment by card, which is usually quicker than sending forms by post and paying by cheque.
Are there other forms to complete?
Yes. here are other forms that might help your application. A C4 form must be completed if you don’t know where you child or your ex are living. A C8 form should be completed if you want to keep your home address confidential and an EX160 form should be completed for help with court fees because you are on benefits or a low wage. You should submit these forms at the same time as the C100 mentioned above.
There's a list of other Children Act forms here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/children-act-forms
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