- C100: application for a child arrangements order
- C1A: information about allegations of harm or domestic abuse
- Divorce Form D8
- Form A: application for a financial order
- Form E: financial statement
- Form H: estimate of costs for financial remedy cases only
Court forms do get easier every time they are rewritten, so these days most of them can be understood without needing a law degree. Or without a solicitor – you will know better and be more likely to get right the names, addresses, dates of birth, etc of your family than an outsider will. These are the important bits to get right, so that the court and Cafcass, etc can make contact with everyone they need to. Mostly, it’s not too drastic if you get something wrong on a court form, especially in children proceedings which change and morph as they go forward, and people rarely look back at the original forms.
Form E is the exception, and the one form you really do need to get right: see below.
The most common forms you will come across are:
C100: application for a child arrangements order
This includes who a child lives with, and how often they see the other parent. It’s also used for a prohibited steps order – to stop a parent doing something, such as taking a child abroad, or moving to a different part of the country. And for a specific issue order to ask the court to decide something the parents can’t agree on, such as which school a child should attend, or whether a child should have medical treatment.
The C100 is a long form (20 pages) but most of it is quite straightforward. If you’re a parent you don’t need permission to apply, if you’re another person such as a grandparent, you do.
On the first page you are asked to say if there has been any harm, or if there is a risk of any harm to your child and you do need to consider this carefully. It won’t help your case at all if you make false allegations but equally it could harm your case if you don’t say at the outset what concerns you have. The first one asks about domestic abuse and if children witness it, they are harmed by it, whether or not it is physical abuse.
If you aren’t sure if yours was an abusive relationship, please read this before ticking this box. And again, the third box asking about child abuse does not have to be physical: constantly criticising or shouting at a child is abusive too.
Question 5b can be answered briefly, e.g. I am only being allowed to see my children once a month and I want the court to order that I can see them every week. Keep it short and factual with no emotion or mention of possible motives of the other parent. You are not writing a statement – that may come later – you are just telling the court, Cafcass and the other parent why you’re making the application and what you want to change.
C1A: information about allegations of harm or domestic abuse
You must complete this form if you will want to say that the other parent has harmed you or your child, or if you fear there is a risk of harm or abduction in the future. If you are the person applying, you send this form with your C100. If you receive a C100 from the other parent you need to send a C1A to the court and other parent as soon as possible. But don’t worry or agonise about this form, the purpose of it is to flag up that there are allegations the court will need to look into. You will give a lot more information to Cafcass or a social worker, and probably in a statement, later and you will be able to alter or add to what you’ve said then; so it doesn’t matter too much what you say on this form now, as long as you say something. It will be harder to make, or be believed about, an allegation of abuse later if you’ve said nothing at the start.
If you are frightened to make your allegations now, maybe because you haven’t felt able to tell anyone what’s been happening before, just put something vague on page 3 such as ‘The Respondent has been abusive and controlling throughout our relationship’ or
even ‘I need help with this but cannot afford a solicitor’ or ‘I wish to make allegations but am frightened of repercussions’. And in section 4 you could just tick ‘yes’ to say you do have other concerns about your children and then write ‘I will make a statement later’.
Divorce Form D8
This is your application for a divorce and you can now apply online or on paper. The form is mostly straightforward and there are guidance notes to help you. If you get something wrong the form will be sent back to you. That will cause a delay, but usually that’s the worst that will happen (unless one of you has another wedding booked, in which case there could be rather big financial consequences!)
For adultery petitions, there is a six month time limit because it is not just adultery, but also the fact that you find it intolerable to live with them afterwards (not everyone does), and the law says it can’t be intolerable if you’re still there six months later. But never mind, you can still do a behaviour petition which is always easier anyway, and there is no six month time limit on behaviour petitions as wrongly stated on some of the divorce forms (!).
Make sure you tick the box applying for your costs – even if you don’t have solicitor’s fees, the court fee alone is £550. If you want your ex to pay all or half of it, you must tick that box in section 11. You will have to ask again when you apply for your decree nisi so this isn’t final and you will have time to negotiate with your ex and you can change what you ask for later or say you don’t want your costs at all. But you can’t ask for them later if you’ve not put it on the original form. If you’ve already agreed to pay half each, you can insert the word ‘half’ in the petition.
It doesn’t really matter if you tick the boxes at 10.1 and 11.3 to say you want a financial order. If you tick ‘yes’ you will still have to fill in Form A and pay another fee before the court will do anything. And if you tick ‘no’ you can still apply at any time unless you have remarried. So it’s always best to tick ‘yes’ just in case you get carried away and forget you haven’t got a final order before you tie the knot again!
Form A: application for a financial order
This will usually be as part of your divorce and if you have not already issued or received a divorce petition, you must do this at the same time as you issue your Form A.
Form A is also used if you are not married, and make an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act, maybe to secure a home for yourself and your children until they are 18. This form is pretty straightforward.
MIAM: please remember that you must have attended a MIAM and have those pages of your form completed and signed by a mediator before you can send either a Form C100 or Form A to the court.
Form E: financial statement
This is different to the forms above, and there’s a clue in the name. Although it is called a form (all 29 pages of it) it is in fact a statement. Statements are evidence and far more important in court proceedings than forms, which just get the process going. And a Form E is a crucial statement and it’s really important to get this one right. You will have about three months from when the Form A is submitted until your first court hearing and it may well take you three months to finish it all. If you have a pension, it could take that long for your pension provider to supply the necessary valuation and there may be lots of other documents you might need to hunt for or apply for copies of. I would recommend that you start as soon as possible by making a list of all the documents and information you will need to gather to complete your form.
You may want to get the advice of a solicitor or accountant before you finalise your Form E. If your case settles, as most do, before the final hearing this will be your only statement in court and it’s best to maximise this opportunity.
Be sure also to make full disclosure of all your assets, liabilities and income as it could come back to bite you if you don’t. The income needs (i.e. your expenses) section of the form is very important, especially if you are not the main earner, and it could take you two or three months to remember everything you pay out for over the course of a year.
The information and documents required by Form E are intrusive and some people are aghast at the information they have to give to their ex in particular, as well as to the court. If you are not in court proceedings, i.e. if neither you nor your ex has sent a Form A to the court, you do not have to do a Form E. If you or your ex has a solicitor they will no doubt ask you for one, but you can make full financial disclosure without putting it all on this form or producing quite so many documents. If you can reach agreement between yourselves, or in mediation, you need only complete a Form D81.
Form D81: Financial form for both parties applying for a consent order
This is just six pages long and you both fill in and sign the same form. It is sent to the court with your consent order (which you probably will need to get a solicitor to draw up for you) and you don’t need to go to court at all.
Form H: estimate of costs for financial remedy cases only
If you have to go to a court hearing and you have a solicitor, they will complete this for you. If you have a direct access barrister, you will need to complete the second column of question 12 with the total of all your barristers’ fees. If you had a solicitor previously you need to add those costs in the appropriate places. You must include all fees paid or owing to a solicitor or barrister for the financial proceedings only: do not include legal fees paid for the divorce itself, or any children or injunction or other proceedings. And do not include any fees paid to a McKenzie Friend, financial advisor or any other professional who you may have paid for help with your case, this is just for the fees of solicitors and barristers.
If you’re a litigant in person and have never had a solicitor or barrister you don’t complete this form: you just have to be prepared for the eye-watering figure your ex discloses if they are represented!
This is only a very brief guide to the complexity of court forms. If you need help with a specific form, I offer a free 20 minute phone call, or some quick help by email so please don’t hesitate to ask.
You can watch the BBC video of the family court protest here.