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Are the courts still open to deal with applications for children law matters?

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In short, the answer is an emphatic yes.  Not only are the courts still open, but the coronavirus situation is accelerating the pace at which the online court website is being designed and made available.

A new service has been launched this week enabling concerned parents to file applications for child arrangements orders – to include what used to be known as residence and contact orders.

You can click through to https://apply-to-court-about-child-arrangements.service.justice.gov.uk and have a look.

The website provides a helpful series of questions to check that the circumstances of your case fit the online offering.  It also summarises the initial steps that you should consider before making an application.  These include an initial meeting with a mediator for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.  Incidentally, Neil Denny, our family lawyer in Nottingham discusses this need for preliminary mediation assessments in the Roythornes Divorce and Family Law podcast.  You can find the relevant episode at the end of this article.

The children law application website will suit most non-urgent applications.

Urgent applications are defined as those where there are serious safety concerns, or where a hearing is required within three days.  However, be aware that the court’s perception of which cases need a hearing within three days, and a parent’s perception, are very different.  Almost every parent will want to have their application heard in three days, but the reality is that court time remains very limited.  The bar on what the court sees as being urgent is set far higher.

If your application is urgent then the guidance remains that you should contact your local court directly.

The court application fee of £215 for most applications remains in place.

You can complete the online application with or without legal assistance. 

We recommend that you do take legal advice before making an application.  We can ensure that you are applying for the correct order.  For example, we frequently find that when people issue their own applications, they underestimate what time they can request to spend with their children.  We will also help you draft your application so that it helps your case, as opposed to jeopardising it further down the line.

Early legal advice can also explain what the various stages of your application will require and help you with other associated matters, such as divorce proceedings, exploring financial provision for you or your children, or protection from domestic abuse, where relevant.

Taking specialist family law advice at the outset does not mean that you have to use solicitors throughout the whole case, but it will make sure that your application starts on the best possible basis and so maximise your chances of success. 

You can contact one of the specialist family lawyers at Roythornes Solicitors on 01775 842555 or in Nottingham on 0115 945 4425.