Sorting out Child Arrangements when you Cannot see your Children
If you are in a situation where you have been unable to see your children and the other party is not responding to discussions on it, then you should take these 6 steps to rectify the situation.
These have been aimed at parents who have been told they cannot see the children again, or who do not know their whereabouts. If you are talking and cannot agree on certain issues or arrangements, then you should try family mediation. If you have been denied contact then you should follow each of the below steps in turn. We recommend you don’t skip any out and don’t change the process in any way.
The 6 steps to take if facing denial of contact.
Step One – Contact the other party
Contact your ex by email, text message or even send a letter. Use the following wording:
“Hello, I hope you and the children are OK? I am really missing them and think they are missing me too. Please, for their sake can we agree a time and place for me to see them so we can put things behind us and move on as parents?”
Keep a record or copy of every message you send. Do not bring anything else up and keep the messages short and polite.
If you get a positive response then go to whatever has been arranged and use stepping-stones to increase the length and number of times the children see you. Don’t hassle or badger the other party – this is all about rebuilding trust and establishing an ongoing parental relationship.
Give it 48 hours and if you have not heard back, or had a negative response go on to:
Step Two – Attempt Family Mediation
Contact again by email, text or letter. Use the following phrase “Hello, I really want to sort this situation out and come to an agreement as parents. Please get in touch so we can arrange for the children to see me. I really think it will help them. If you don’t want to talk to me about it, I understand. But just reply with a yes, if you would be willing to sort this all out through mediation.”
Wait 48 hours and if you receive a negative response or no response at all, then move onto:
Step Three – Apply for a MIAM for Your C100 Form
Apply for an urgent MIAM. You can book one of these in below and usually have the signed MIAM form within 24 hours. With an Urgent MIAM, the other party is not contacted. You can now tell the mediator that you have made two attempts to resolve this amicably and suggested mediation but got either no response or a negative response.
If you are represented by a solicitor, you should pass the MIAM certificate to them, but if you are following the process yourself, you now need to download a C100 form. Use this guide for help with C100 Form.
Step Four – Make an online application to court with a C100 Form
You will need to have completed the C100 Form and entered details of your accredited family mediator who carried out the MIAM.
You should send the following message:
“Hi, it’s a shame that we have not been able to resolve this between ourselves or through mediation. I am getting in touch as a courtesy to let you know I have filed an application for child arrangements order with the court to sort out the parenting arrangements for our child(ren). They will write to you directly with details of our first hearing. I am always open to sorting this out between us so if you want to do that or go to family mediation, please do get in touch.”
If you hear back and can resolve matters out of court, then great. You can pause a hearing, or attend the hearing and ask for an order by consent (when you have both reached an agreement).
If you do not hear back, or receive a negative reply then by applying for the Child Arrangements Order, you will automatically move onto:
Step Five – Attend the first hearing and ask for an Interim Court Order
It may be the court will want to appoint CAFCASS to carry out reports on you, and the other parent and, if they are deemed old enough, they will talk with the children. The judge may consider the case suitable for mediation and adjourn to allow you to do this, or they may want more information before they make a judgement.
In the meantime, you can ask the judge to make an interim child arrangements order so that the children have some form of contact with you, whilst the longer-term arrangements are being decided.
The interim order is likely to be different from the final order, so you should carry out the order and adhere to it before the next hearing.
If the judge makes a final order, or when you reach a final hearing then:
Step Six – Obtain a child arrangements order
The court will ultimately make an order that you should both adhere to. As time goes by and the children get older, this may require changing. You should always try to work together as parents to change a child arrangements order in the children’s best interests. If you cannot agree then try family mediation and if that fails, then you can go back to court to vary an order.
It is important to note, you do not have to return to court to vary an order if you both agree to the change, or agree to change it through mediation. Indeed, the sooner you can work together to accommodate changes the less money you will spend and the less stressful life will be.
Points to remember on arranging child contact:
• Focus entirely on what is in the children’s best interests
• Keep discussions about the children and them seeing you
• Don’t threaten, intimidate or be abusive in anyway
• You will usually need to at least consider family mediation prior to going to court
• Try to resolve matters outside of court wherever possible
Click here for further help with C100 Form
These 6 Steps have been produced by Ali Carter & the family mediators at Mediate UK.
Ali is the Managing Director of Divorce Ltd, a mediator, divorce negotiator and has previously been through a divorce himself. He has helped in over 3000 divorce or separations since 2010.