Court priority to children of separated parents
Dorset flagship pilot scheme
From the beginning of March 2022, Dorset and North Wales are participating in a government-approved pilot scheme to streamline applications to the court for child arrangements, if parents cannot agree on how their children share their time between their separate homes.
The purpose is to prevent long, expensive, and acrimonious court cases between warring parents.
Undoubtedly, the emotional impact on your children can be devastating when parents separate and argue. The children are often the ones most affected by the lasting negative impact.
So, for the first time, when the court receives an application concerning child arrangements:
- Initial ‘gatekeeping’ will check whether mediation is appropriate and has been attempted;
- A case progression officer (CPO) will contact the parents and explain what happens next;
- A child impact report (CIR) will be prepared;
- If appropriate, the local authority, the police, and other relevant organisations can become involved to conduct risk and safeguarding assessments.
- Parents can also be ’signposted’ to specifically skilled organisations in the community (outside the court) to see if they can help;
- A Family Court judge will still be involved to make decisions if necessary.
Even at the end of the process when hopefully all is settled with a plan, the court can review this for you say between 3 and 12 months afterward if it helps the children and parents.
All of this is child-centered. The court wants to help parents avoid the situation where all logic is lost through emotion at what is obviously a difficult time and to help steer parents and the children through to the future more positively than the current Family Court system.