How the family justice system can help you agree on care arrangements for your children after 31 March 2014.
The family justice system can help you agree when there are disputes about how you’ll care for your children, especially after you separate.
A range of support is available to help you settle disputes without going to the Family Court. If you can’t agree, the Family Court can make decisions.
If you need urgent help such as if you or your children are at risk, you can apply directly to the Family Court and may be eligible to apply for legal aid.
Support to reach agreement without going to Court
To help you reach your own private agreement without going to court, the free Parenting Through Separation parent information programme and the Family Dispute Resolution mediation service are available.
If you are eligible, you can receive government funded mediation (Family Dispute Resolution) and some government funded legal advice from the Family Legal Advice Service.
Going to the Family Court
If you do end up going to court, you'll do some things without a lawyer. These include giving your papers to the court (known as filing your papers) and attending some meetings (called conferences) with the Judge.
Lawyers and legal aid
In some cases, when you go to court, you'll be able to use a lawyer and apply for legal aid if you're eligible. Situations where you'll be able to use a lawyer include:
when the Judge allows it
if your case goes to a hearing
if your case involves other family justice matters as well as a care of children dispute, or
if you are asking the court to do something urgently (without notice).