Parents or carers of children are generally able to start proceedings without permission, but if not there is an additional early stage where you have to seek ‘LEAVE’ (permission) of the Court to apply (Use form C2).
Before making an application to Court all applicants must firstly attend a ‘MIAM’ unless they are exempt. A MIAM is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, the aim of which is to explore if the problem can be settled by Mediation. If the case is not suitable for mediation or it cannot progress the mediator will confirm this to allow you to carry on and apply. (See our page on mediation and alternatives to Court, and our F.A.Q. about mediation).
- The person who wants the help of the Court now have to ISSUE an application at the Court using specific forms (usually C100) and this will set a timetable in motion. This person is the Applicant.
- At least 14 days before the first Court hearing (a date set by the Court) the Applicant must SERVE (send) the documents on the other party. The Court may do this for you if you have no lawyer – you will need to check.
- The other person should ACKNOWLEDGE receipt of the documents and fill in their ANSWER form within 14 days of service. There is a form they can use for this (Form C7). The person responding to the application is called the RESPONDENT.
- Once the application has been issued CAFCASS (Children & Families Court Advisory & Support Service) – will start making some basic safeguarding enquiries with the Police and Social Services. You may receive a phonecall from them. At this stage they will only want to talk to you about any safety issues for you or the children.