The national lockdown has certainly had an impact on relationships throughout the country. Relationships have become frayed and broken down, parents raising children separately have seen their once amicable relationships deteriorate due to disagreements over the last several months.

As a result, more and more people are turning to the Court arena to try and resolve family disputes relating to children. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) have recently published that they have had a total of 4,659 new private law cases in March 2021, this is a 38 per cent increase of cases compared to the same month in 2020.

What is the Difference Between Private and Public Family Law Cases?

Applications for child arrangements orders are usually between private individuals under Section 8 Children Act 1989, which are private law matters. Where someone seeks an order in respect of a child who is in the care of the local authority it will be considered a public law matter.

Child arrangement orders are the most common application issued. These are applications to look at arrangements for a child such as who the child should live with or spend time with. Contact with a child can either be direct or indirect and there can also be orders made not only in respect of parents but between siblings and wider family members.

In private law cases the child is not a party to the proceedings unless there are particular circumstances that make the case complex. The court can request a welfare report under Section 7 Children Act 1989, either from the local authority or from a CAFCASS officer. The report will usually inform the court of the child’s wishes and feelings, but the officer will make a recommendation based on what they think is in the child’s best interests rather than just report on the child’s wishes. The Court will then look at all the evidence available and make a decision.

If you require advice in relation to child arrangements or any family law related matter contact our experienced team at Farleys on 0845 287 0939, send your enquiry by email or speak to us through our online chat below.