The Family Law Society was founded in 2004 to promote equal parenting and to assist parents who had lost contact with their children. We actively lobby the powers that be encouraging them to bring about a shared parenting culture with a Shared Parenting Act at its centre. Shared parenting makes sense because when you are in a relationship and have children you share the care of them so why should it be any different if the relationship breaks down? Why should there be a winner and a loser in the Family courts? The Family Law Society campaigns to bring about equality of the sexes in the eyes of the law.
Information about Family Law proceedings
If your relationship breaks down and you have difficulty maintaining contact with your children you may need to go to court either to make an application for contact or care of your children or you may need to defend an action by your ex-partner. If you need to make an application you should make contact with your local Family mediator. You and your ex will be invited to a Family mediation session. If your ex declines you can then make an application to your local Family court using a C100 form for contact or care of your children. If you on a low income you can submit a EX160 fee remittance form to have all court fees waived or you can seek the services of a Legal Aid solicitor.
If you are doing the application yourself you are termed a litigant in person in which case you will need to submit three copies of the C100 form.
The first hearing you will be a directions hearing which is a housekeeping hearing where witness statements are called for and Cafcass (Court and Family Support Service) are generally appointed to compile a Section 7 Welfare report. There are two types of hearing Public Law and Private Law proceedings. Public Law proceedings involve Social Services and Cafcass officers as Guardians of the children concerned. Private Law proceedings are between ex-partners.
There may be a number of directions hearings before the Final Hearing where cross-examination of the parties and professionals takes place before a judge makes a judgement on the matter in hand.
There are 3 main governing Acts of Family Law proceedings.
Children Act 1989
Human rights Act 1998
Children and Families Act 2014
The Children Act provides a Welfare checklist for children’s wishes and feelings to be taken into account in Family Law proceedings.
The Family Law Society provides a helpline for anyone going through Family Law proceedings or anyone requiring assistance with a Child Arrangement Order.
The Children and Families Act 2014 brought in the concept of a Child Arrangement Order which replaced residence orders. You can now make an
application for sole care or shared care under a Child Arrangement Order.
The Family Law Society can assist parents whose children have been abducted by their ex-partner. We provide a tracing service.
The Family Law Society are Key Stakeholders of Cafcass. We have spent many years trying to persuade Cafcass that shared parenting is the
International Child Abduction
If your child is abducted by your ex-partner you should immediately contact the police and the Charity reunite or the Family Law Society helpline. Time is of the essence when a child is abducted. If your child is still in your country the police can alert all airports, seaports and in thecase of the UK the Channel Tunnel authorities.
If you are having problems with contact with your child in a foreign country you should contact reunite and the Family Law Society. We can help you regain contact as can reunite.
The Hague Convention on Abducted Children governs issues of residence and contact in all of its signatory countries. It is administered by the Central Authority in each country that has signed the convention. In the UK the Child Abduction Units of the Official Solicitor and the Foreign and Commonwealth office are the Central Authority. The Office of the Official Solicitor deals with Hague Convention cases and the Foreign and Commonwealth Child Abduction Unit deals with non-Hague cases. This model is replicated around the world. Victims of abduction can get Legal Aid. Too date the Family Law Society has found every child we have been asked to look for and
reunited them with their parent who suffered the abduction.
For stranger abductions you should contact the police.
The Family Law Society helpline operates 24/7 365 days a year.
Private Law proceedings are between ex-partners.
Public Law proceedings are where Social Services are involved in making an application for a care or adoption order.
In Public Law proceedings for a care or adoption order Social Services have to prove that the threshold has been met.
If you are on low income you can qualify for Legal Aid.
At the final hearing you or your legal team have the opportunity to cross-examine social workers and other professionals involved in your case.
If you wish to complain about the Social Services report you can raise a stage 1 complaint against the social worker which is dealt with by their manager. If you remain unhappy you can raise a stage 2 complaint which is dealt with by a independent investigator. If you are still unhappy you can raise a stage 3 complaint which is dealt with by a independent panel. The next stage if you are still unhappy is to raise a complaint with the Local Council Ombudsman.
You should think carefully about the cross-examination questions you want to pose to social workers and other professionals.
Cafcass has a far inferior complaints procedure compared to Social Services because they deal with all complaints in-house with no independent element.