The process for resolving children disputes (flowchart)

This is our step-by-step guide to the process if you can't agree about arrangements for children.  You can also read more about UK law on children disputes.

Attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

A mediator will help you assess whether mediation could help you resolve things without court proceedings. The mediator will complete a section of your court application form to confirm you have considered mediation

If your application is urgent or mediation is not appropriate, it may be possible to apply to court without first attending a MIAM

Complete application form and issue at court

You need to complete your court application form and send it to the appropriate family court

The family court will then decide how to manage the case and what level of judge should hear it





First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA)

Your first hearing should be listed 5-6 weeks after the application is made

Cafcass must carry out safeguarding checks in advance of this hearing and are usually present at the hearing. They will help you try and agree things

If you can't agree, directions will be given for the progression of the case, including the filing of any witness statements. You may be directed to attend mediation or another form of dispute resolution if considered appropriate

Case progression

In some cases it is necessary for a more in depth Cafcass report to be carried out (for example, a wishes and feelings report or a full welfare report)

In cases where there are allegations of abuse, a fact-finding hearing may be necessary

Further hearings

There may be further hearings to resolve specific issues or decide what further evidence is needed

If no agreement is reached, case management directions will be given to move the case to a final hearing

Final Hearing

A final hearing will be listed at which the court can make a final order

It is likely that the parties will give evidence at this hearing, and their lawyers will make submissions (legal arguments) to persuade the court

The court will then reach a decision and make an order


Have we answered your question? Would you like advice on your personal circumstances?

Email us at or call on 020 3701 5915 and we will explain how we can help.