C100 Form Child Arrangement Order [2021 Step-By-Step Guide]
I am an accredited family mediator and was a magistrate in the family courts for a number of years. My family has also been through the family courts and it was a very stressful and difficult process. It struck me that there was very little help that I could access online, which prompted me to write this guide. I wanted to try to take away a little of the mystery and to explain what the different sections of the form are for. The court process seems an impossible riddle for many people, the C100 form looks complicated enough to put most people off and people are often happy to pay a solicitor or other professional to complete the C100 form on their behalf. But not everybody has the money to be able to afford this. It is difficult enough to be going through the court process without having the barrier of a complicated-looking form which will cost you a lot to have completed for you. This guide will take you step-by-step through the form and hopefully, give you the confidence to be able to complete it yourself. What is important to remember is that you know your children and your situation the best, so you really are the best person to say what you think is best for your children. Of course, there will be some cases which are legally more complex than others, but I hope this guide will give enough information for many to complete the application themselves.
I wish you and your family every happiness in the future.
Stuart Hanson FMCA JP
Managing Partner & Family Mediator
Why are we here?
I personally work with about 50 people a month who need to sort out their family problems. The most frequent problem is agreeing the time that each parent has with their children. One parent very often feels that the other is controlling the time they are “allowed” to have and that they are not able to be as much of a parent as they want. In many cases it becomes a power struggle, and in the end, it is the children they both love so much who lose out the most. Other parents – and of course this can include grandparents – face a brick wall where there is no contact after an argument or disagreement and contact is stopped as a punishment. Going to court is not a fun experience for anyone and what you are facing is probably one of the most stressful situations in your life. On top of that comes the cost, which stops many people even being able to make the application to court.
But surely I have to go to court, don’t I?
That may have been the case in the past, but since April 2013 it has become a very expensive way for nearly everyone. That’s when Legal Aid – which pays legal costs for people on benefits or a low income – stopped being available for nearly all Family Court matters. But there are other ways to resolve problems. One popular alternative is family mediation, a sort of ‘refereed discussion’, which aims to help parents come to an agreement jointly, rather than confronting and battling each other in court. And what’s more – Legal Aid is still available for this. Even if you don’t qualify for Legal Aid, your ex-partner might, which would also pay the costs of your MIAM (Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting) and first mediation session. It is reported that the average person saves £2,148 by going to mediation instead of having a court hearing.
Mediation can help you, even if communication between you has broken down so much, that you can’t be in the same room as your ex-partner. We can do mediation via WhatsApp, for example, so you are in the comfort and safety of your own home. Even if your mediation is taking place in the mediator’s office, we can arrange the session so you are in separate rooms and the mediator moves between you. This is called shuttle mediation.
The courts prefer most matters to be settled through mediation and they generally will not accept the court form unless a MIAM certificate has been signed by an accredited mediator. Couples usually have to show that they have considered mediation, so there is literally nothing to lose by coming to mediation before approaching the courts.
C100 Form – Child Arrangements
This guide just deals with a request for a Child Arrangement Order. This is the most common application to the family court and basically asks the Court to make an order outlining what contact you will have with your children in the future. The order, if made, will generally state arrangements concerning pick-ups and drop-offs. It may also cover special days in the year, such as birthdays and religious festivals.
Completing the C100 Form
The first question I am normally asked is, “Where do I get the form from?” The C100 form, as it is commonly called, can be downloaded from the UK government website. The full name of the application is Application under the Children Act 1989 for a child arrangements, prohibited steps, specific issue section 8 order or to vary or discharge a section 8 order.
This is a PDF form which you can either complete on your computer or print and complete by hand. If you don’t have a printer at home, one of the cheapest places to print or copy documents is often your library.
Making a start!
Page 0 – All about mediation
The first page on the form explains mediation, what the process is and how you can access it. It also tells you what to do if you think you are exempt from having to attend a MIAM.
As the form says, you do not have to sign and date the box at the bottom of the page, but you can if you want to.
Page 1 – Basic case details
The top right of the page is completed by the court. The first part you need to complete is “First name(s) of applicant(s)” followed by “Last name of applicant(s)”. If I am filling the form in, I would write “Stuart” and then “Hanson”.
It then goes on to ask about the “First name(s) of respondent(s)” and “Last name of the respondent(s)”. The respondent is the other person involved, normally your ex-partner.
There is a section to the left that says “Nature of application”. This guide only looks at a “Child Arrangements Order” – sorting out the time your children spend with each parent. Tick the box. The box below asks you about the nature of the order you seek. Write a very brief description of what you want. For example, “An order to clearly define child arrangements.”
The other side of the page asks about “Concerns about risk or harm”. You need to answer “Yes” or “No” to each of the 5 points. Think very carefully when completing this. If you tick “Yes” on any of these boxes, you must be absolutely certain that you have grounds to make these serious allegations. The courts will investigate and it will not look good if they find you had no reason to make the allegation. Don’t tick one of these boxes to try to jump the queue. Of course, if you have concerns and evidence to back them up, you must tick the boxes that apply. If this is the case, you must complete Form C1A and send it with this application.
There are 6 questions at the end of this page, “Additional information required”.
Question 1: “Are you asking for permission to make this application, where that is required?” If you are the parent, tick “No”. This question is aimed at people such as grandparents.
Question 2: “Is an urgent hearing or without notice hearing required?” This is where the court must intervene immediately to prevent harm to a child. Everyone wants their case to be heard quickly, but this box is only to be used where a child is at immediate risk.
Question 3: “Are there previous or ongoing proceedings for the child(ren)?” It is important for the court to know if you have been in court before about your children, so they can have all the information they need to help you and your family. You may also have other issues going through the family court and these may need to be looked at together.
Question 4: “Are you looking for an order to formalise an agreement (consent order)?” You and your ex-partner may have come to an agreement in mediation and you are both wanting it made into a court order.
Question 5: “Is this a case with an international element or factors affecting litigation capacity?” This refers to situations such as a parent taking a child out of the UK, a child with two nationalities and one of the parents have threatened to take the child out of the UK, one of the parents relocating abroad with the child.
Question 6: “Will the child, or any of the people involved, need to use spoken or written Welsh during the course of the proceedings?” I think this speaks for itself!
Mediation is a voluntary process, so attending mediation is always your own choice.
However, the courts do expect that you will attempt mediation with your ex-partner before going to court, unless there are mitigating circumstances, such as domestic violence or safe guarding issues.
Many court applications require a mediator to sign the form, before filing at court. If you refuse to attend mediation and you go to court, you may have to explain your reasons to a judge or a magistrate.
Page 2 – The children involved
This page is probably the simplest on the form. All you need to do is give your children’s details. Include all the children that need to be considered in your application. Remember to start with the oldest child first and list them oldest to youngest. Dates of birth need to be date, then month, then year, e.g. 5 March 2014 is 05 03 2014. Then, for each child, state the “Orders applied for”. In our case this is “Child Arrangement Order”. And for each child, say what the Applicant’s (you) and the Respondent’s (the other party) relationship to the child is – don’t assume it’s obvious!
Page 3 – More information about the children
Question 1a: Tell the court whether or not the children are known to Social Services. If your children are, add the name of the child or children known to Social Services, the name of the Local Authority and the Social Worker (if you know).
Question 1b: “Are any of the children the subject of a child protection plan?” This is a formal plan written by Social Services, to ensure the child is safe and prevent them from suffering further harm.
Question 1c: “Do all the children have the same parents?” Families today are more diverse, but remember, this is only asking about the children the order is being applied for.
The last box in this section, asking about parental responsibility for each child, is not as straightforward as it looks. Remember, someone can have Parental Responsibility even if they are not named as a parent on the birth certificate.
Question 1d: “Who do the children currently live with?” In this box write down who each child is living with – “Applicant(s)”, “Respondent(s)” or “Other”. This may be with you, your ex-partner, friends, grandparents, etc. Note what the form says – if you put the address in here, the Respondent will see it. There may be situations where you need to prevent this for the child’s sake. Also, you may genuinely not know their exact address, in which case you can put ‘Not known’.
Page 4 – Attending mediation
The next few pages are about the Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Read the first paragraph carefully, then answer the next four questions:
2a This guide deals with “Child arrangements”, so the response will usually be “No”.
2b There are a few circumstances where you can claim to be exempt from a MIAM. These are listed on the Family Mediation Council website. Only tick “Yes” if one of these exemptions applies to you, otherwise you must answer “No”.
2c “Has a family mediator informed you that a mediator’s exemption applies, and you do not need to attend a MIAM?” Make sure you speak to a Family Mediation Council accredited mediator. You can check the register to see if your mediator is listed.
2d “Have you attended a MIAM?” You can have your MIAM online (video link or by video WhatsApp call), in person at an office or, if you are a privately paying client, on the telephone.
Page 5 – 8 MIAM exemptions
You ONLY have to go through this big section of the form if you are claiming that you are exempt. Below are some of the exemptions accepted by the family court: You will not be expected to attend a MIAM if any of the following apply to your situation:
- You, or the other respondent party, has alleged domestic violence against the other; however, this must be supported by clear evidence. An example would be if either a police investigation took place or an injunction was made.
- The court application you are making links to other family legal matters which involve you.
- An urgent application needs to be made to the court, because there is a genuine risk to the life or safety of the person making the application or their family (for example, their children) or their home.
- The legal dispute is about money and one of the parties is bankrupt.
- Where there is no dispute and all parties are in agreement.
- You do not know where the other party in the proceedings is.
- You want to make a court application, but you have good and specific reasons for not telling the respondent before.
- There is social services involvement and they have stated that there are genuine concerns about the wellbeing and safety of your child(ren).
- Either you are not able to find a family mediator within 15 miles of where you live, or you have been in touch with three mediators within your 15-mile radius, but none of them has been able to give you an appointment within 15 working days.
- You or the other party have a disability that stops you from attending a mediator’s office. However, as online MIAMs and mediation is now available under Legal Aid, you would also have to show that you cannot access the internet.
- An accredited mediator records on the court form that mediation is not suitable. An example would be that the other person (the respondent) does not wish to come to a MIAM.
- If you have been to mediation within the past four months, but it has not worked out. The mediator will confirm on the court form that mediation is not the best way for the matter to be resolved.
- You or the respondent do not live in either England or Wales. The person living abroad would not be seen as being “habitually resident”.
Always bear in mind that the magistrates or judge can direct you to go to mediation if they feel that your case can be dealt with in this way.
Page 9 – MIAM Certificate
This page is for the accredited mediator to complete, not you! Remember that mediation might not cost you anything if you qualify for Legal Aid. If this is the case, your MIAM certificate will also be free. Mediation is voluntary and therefore you can decide not to take part in the MIAM, but remember, the magistrates or judge will probably want to know why you refused mediation. Your mediator will probably email you with your MIAM certificate for you to print off.
Page 10 – Reasons for making the application
This is where you explain to the court what you are asking for.
The first question is “Have you applied to the court for permission to make this application?” You do not need permission for the type of case we are dealing with, so tick the “No” box and you can ignore box 5a.
Question 5b: Give brief details, you don’t have to write a book! The best advice I have is to keep emotions out of your explanation. Keep it factual and don’t try to guess or speculate about what the other person’s motives might be. This can be really difficult to do, but it is always best to be simple, clear and direct in asking for what you want.
You need to say:
- how you agreed things previously;
- what the situation has been, up to now;
- what’s got in the way now;
- what you want the court to do.
Here is an example:
“My ex-partner and I have shared the parenting of our children on an informal basis for the last two years. I previously had the children Friday after school to Sunday lunchtime on alternate weekends and an overnight stay on Wednesdays each week. Communications have broken down fully and my contact has been stopped. I ask the court to grant a Child Arrangements Order to reflect our shared parenting arrangements and future contact along the same lines as previously.”
5c “Have you previously prepared a Parenting Plan?” You will certainly know if you have one. It is also sometimes called a Parenting Agreement. It is a document that covers care arrangements, communications between parents, holidays, other special times, health and education. If you would like to see one, click here.
Pages 11 & 12 – Urgent and without notice hearings
These pages do not apply for the type of application this guide supports.
Page 13 – Other court cases which concern the child(ren) listed in Section 1
Only complete this page if you answered “Yes” to the 3rd question on the first page of the form (Are there previous or ongoing proceedings for the child(ren)). If so, give details here. This only applies to the child(ren) you are asking to be considered in this application.
Page 14 – Cases with an international element
Only complete this if you answered “Yes” to the fifth question on the first page of the form and it’s an overseas residence issue (Is this a case with an international element or factors affecting litigation capacity?)
Page 15 – Attending court
This is to make sure the court is ready for you and anyone else’s needs, when attending court. If you, or someone involved in the case, needs an interpreter or any other assistance/facilities, it is important that you mention it here. As it says at the bottom of the page, the courts may be in touch to discuss what you have written.
Page 16 – About you (the applicant(s))
This page is about you and your contact information. If you do not want the respondent to know your address, leave the address details blank and complete Confidential contact details Form C8. Remember to make sure that any documents submitted with this form or at a later date, do not disclose the confidential contact details you wish to withhold.
Page 17 – The respondent(s)
This page is about the other party – usually your ex-partner. Try and put down as much information as you can, but if you don’t know something, just tick the “Don’t know” box. You can complete a separate C4 Form, which will instruct the court to order certain people/organisations to tell the court where the respondent is. This does not necessarily mean that you will be given the details of where your ex-partner is, but the court will have that information so it can move forward with the case.
Page 18 – Others who should be given notice
This page should not need to be completed if the problems you are facing are between just you and your ex-partner.
Page 19 – Solicitor’s details
Only complete this page if you have formally instructed a solicitor to act for you in this matter – probably unlikely if you are completing this form yourself.
Page 20 – Checklist & Statement of Truth
Well done, you have reached the end! All you need to do is go through the checklist and ensure that you have completed the form correctly.
This just leaves the Statement of Truth. Always remember to stick to facts in your application and leave emotions and speculation out of it. If you are satisfied that everything you have written in the form is true to the best of your knowledge, sign the box. As with all official forms, if the court finds that you have been untruthful or tried to mislead it, you may face prosecution and it won’t help your case.
Remember to make three copies of your form. To find your local court click here.
Other Options – Family Arbitration
If you want to keep out of the family courts, family arbitration may interest you. It is similar to going to court, the main difference is that decision on your child arrangement based on your circumstances, is made by the arbitrator, not a magistrate or a judge. You and your ex-partner would have to agree on the arbitrator you would want to use. One benefit is that you select where the hearing is held.
Unlike mediation, which is not legally binding, an arbitrator’s decision is. This means that you have to keep to the agreement set out, just as you would with a court order.
This option is popular if you and your ex-partner do not want to wait a long time for the family courts to list your case. Some courts have a waiting list of more than a year for a full hearing. It is always worth asking your local court how long their waiting time is.
People often go to arbitrators if they have not been able to come to a joint agreement in mediation and would prefer someone else to decide, rather than having difficult negotiations.
Remember, arbitration is not cheap and Legal Aid is not available for this service. Despite this, it can still be less expensive than going to court, which often costs thousands of pounds. It is estimated that a straightforward arbitration case costs around £1,000. However, fees vary depending on location and the complexity of the case being dealt with.
The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators website has lots of useful information and a search tool which lets you find an arbitrator near to you. You may also find it useful to discuss arbitration with a solicitor before deciding on this route.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many mediation sessions will I need to sort out my child arrangements or financial issues?
The number of sessions vary depending on how well you and your ex-partner work together. It also depends on how many issues you have to resolve.
What can I do to make the arrangements agreed in mediation legally binding?
Some people feel that they need the security of a court order to move forward with their lives. It is usually best to speak to your mediator about the different options or speak with a family solicitor.
Do I have to speak directly to my ex-partner in mediation?
There are two types of mediation: face to face and shuttle. Face to face basically means having direct contact with your ex, while shuttle is where the mediator goes between the two of you. This can be done in person or online.
Who has to pay for family mediation?
If you are privately paying, you only have to pay for yourself. Your ex-partner will be responsible for their fees.
I sincerely wish you and your family all the best. It is undoubtedly a very stressful time for you. If you need more support there are organisations out there to talk to. If you need more help completing the C100 form, Support Through Court is available. Click on the link to find the closest office to you [insert link]. If you need help finding a solicitor, please send me an email and we will help find you a solicitor that matches your needs through The Legal Exchange.
The information on this page is for general guidance. If you require legal advice, we suggest that you contact a family solicitor.
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