4. If you can't agree

If you’ve got help and still can’t agree then you’ll need to apply for a court order before you go to court.

You must show you’ve attended a meeting about mediation first - except in certain cases (there’s been domestic abuse, for example).

You may have to attend a court appointment and go to a number of court hearings.

Before the court makes a decision, it might ask you try mediation again or go on a course to help you resolve issues.

Types of court order

The type of court order you need depends on what you’ve been unable to agree on. You can apply for more than one court order.

Arrangements for your child

A ‘child arrangements order’ decides:

  • where your child lives
  • when your child spends time with each parent
  • when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example)

‘Child arrangements orders’ replace ‘residence orders’ and ‘contact orders’. Parents with these orders don’t need to re-apply.

Find a solicitor if you need legal advice.

Your child’s upbringing

A ‘specific issue order’ is used to look at a specific question about how the child is being brought up, for example:

  • what school they go to
  • if they should have a religious education

You can also apply for a ‘prohibited steps order’ to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing.

Who can apply

The child’s mother, father or anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a court order.

Other people, like grandparents, can apply for these court orders, but they’ll need to get permission from the courts first.