The cost of making child arrangements in the UK is often one of the main concerns when parents separate and there is any kind of dispute. So how much does it cost to go to court for child access?
The bad news is that this can get expensive. You will also almost certainly have to cover the costs yourself – there’s not usually the concept of “loser pays” legal costs in family court.
Here is everything you need to know about how much it costs to apply for child access – or, as it’s more properly known these days, a Child Arrangement Order:
What Is Child Access?
“Child access” is a slightly outdated term much (like the also outmoded “custody” and “residence”). These days, the term that the courts use is “child arrangements”. This is because this sounds much more neutral for the child involved.
Child arrangements are essentially the co-parenting set-up you arrange with a former partner in cases of separation or divorce where there is a child involved.
The idea is to make sure the child has a relationship with both parents (unless there is a reason not to, such as abuse) and that the child’s health and well-being are provided for in the best possible way.
While some parents see it as their right to see their child, it is much better to think of it as your child’s right to see you.
What Is A Child Arrangement Order?
A Child Arrangement Order is a kind of legal document that sets out child arrangements (formerly called child access or custody) in black and white. It can cover:
- Where children will live
- Who children will spend time with and for how long
The wording of a Child Arrangement Order is sometimes arrived at amicably with both parents agreeing though the court has the final word.
In cases of disagreement though, it will be down to the court to decide what will be best for the child in question after CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) discusses it with both parents and the child.
Getting A Child Arrangement Order – Cost
The basic cost of a Child Arrangement Order is £232. You are also required to at least try the mediation process before you apply for one. However, there can be more costs attached if the process involves going to court.
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Court For Child Access?
Irritatingly, there isn’t a hard and fast rule for working out how much it will cost to go to court for child access (or making child arrangements, as it is now more often called). It will certainly always be cheapest and easiest to change arrangements outside of court. Of course, this isn’t always possible.
Court and legal fees vary by solicitor and by how complex your case is. For instance, if domestic violence is an issue, you are no longer in contact with your former partner, or there are serious disagreements of another kind, it may be more difficult and take longer.
If you need an estimate, Solicitors Near Me can put you in touch with the family law solicitor who is right for you for FREE and with no obligation. Simply complete a Free Online Enquiry now or give us a call on 0845 1391399 and we’ll search out the right expert for you.
Who Pays Court Costs In Family Court UK?
In the UK, it’s not uncommon for the person who “loses” a court case to be told to pay the legal fees of the person who “won”. In family law though, this isn’t usually the case. This means you will almost always need to pay your own court costs. The only exceptions might be:
1) Legal Aid For Child Arrangements Orders
You may qualify for legal aid for a Child Arrangement Order if you are “fee exempt” from paying legal fees (this is usually related to your income). You may also have to show that you have suffered or are at risk of suffering domestic violence or abuse.
2) Costs Orders In Family Law
In some relatively rare cases, the Family Court can place a Costs Order than requires one party to pay the legal costs of another. This will only usually happen if one party has acted “unreasonably” or “irresponsibly” during the case. For example, they might have:
- Made unfounded allegations
- Failed to engage in mediation
- Refused to attend court proceedings
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