This is a post by Sarah Phillimore
On January 24th 2019 I got a text message from a parent I know. She was applying to discharge the care order regarding one of her children. She needed to know what form to use.
The internet (and my site) told her Form C110A. The court staff on the family team of her local court told her it was C100 but when she went to file her application she was told it was a C1. My response was that I thought it was C110A but I would make a plea for confirmation via Twitter.
The responses came quite quickly and were unanimous. It’s Form C110A! However, two of the Big Beasts of the family law scene – Andrew Pack and Lucy Reed – then offered another view. Pack was clear – its a C1. The C110A is only for those wishing to apply for an EPO.
Reed’s suggestion of a C2 was a new runner in an already crowded field. She noted that no form was in fact specified for a discharge of a care order and therefore C2 was the way to go by operation of Part 18 of the rules
Another MKF agreed with Reed. Then another lawyer weighed in for C110A.
My brain was, at this point, leaking slowly from my ears. And I am not a parent trying to apply to discharge a care order against my child.
The frustration of the parent was evident. She was very worried about what form to use to make her application and texted:
They won’t accept it unless the form their demanding is used so do I do it n risk getting chucked out on a fuck up that know is a fuck up of not my choosing?
Another parent on Twitter offered their experiences about when the ‘wrong’ form was used
Not really. Told to file C100 when gone with C2, then accepted C2 with manager’s approval. Then no response (as in application not issued) for a month. When chased told C2 was the wrong form and “has been mislaid” and told to file C100 (so the “wrong” form led to a month’s delay)
— AG (@goyalam) January 25, 2019
This really matters. Filling in the wrong form can lead to your application not being issued or being delayed. Why on earth does it have to be so difficult? What message are we giving to litigants in person? The Government purports to offer some help with its ‘Form Finder’ – but unless you know exactly what you are looking for it seems impossible to find anything. There is no automatic legal aid for applying to discharge a care order. It is available on a means and merits basis; the vast majority of applicants will be going it alone.
Harsh but fair; the parent’s view
I asked the parent if she would describe the impact of this on her. This is what she said:
So you get all your proverbial ducks in a row make the leap to fighting to get your child back and ironically can’t get past the first hurdle… I seem to have really divided the entire family court scene by one question ‘what form do I use to discharge a care order?’ The options are C1, C2, C110A and C100 yeah confused yet?
Its well known us parents get a raw deal, us LiP parents the more brutal end of that raw deal desperate, bewildered, emotional, confused and to be fair is it any wonder when not even the ‘experts’ know what is going on?!
Team A siding with C1 applications are big players like Andrew Pack and the court clerk for filing. Team B siding with C110A are big players like Sarah Phillimore and the Red Book. Team C siding with C2 are the MKF and big players like Lucy Reed. Team D siding with C100 are the actual family court staff who have to accept the form you hand in!
Soooooo now here I sit and I’m not green behind the ears by a long shot, I’m what you can call hardened to the system, I’ve worked as a MKF for 8 years and been a LiP for a lot longer than that – I’ve even set a precedent or two along my journey and I’m confused. Not just a little confused but a lot confused so how does Joe Bloggs your average parent stand a chance, no legal aid no help and apparently none of the professionals knowing either.
How is that fair and respectful of ECHR 6 and 8 and equality and all that shizzle that’s often shouted about but never actually seen to happen in the family court?
I’ve got my younger children with me, I’m not your average emotional train wreck parent that’s often left in the aftermath of court proceedings I’m happy, healthy and enjoying my life , its been years now and the opportunity has arose to get my older child home, its a far stretch from the usual 6 months desperate claw back to regain your child before adoption and placement orders etc you see for these applications – and even I’m sat here thinking what is the point, the systems set for me to fail.
One can’t blame parents that have just faced in their opinion that social workers colluded to lie and steal their child for thinking its done on purpose and it’s all the LA’s fault….obviously it’s not, it is quite transparently truly from no one actually knowing than purposeful prohibition and certainly not anything to do with the LA for once they aren’t to blame!
So who is actually right?? Perhaps given its such an important issue for parents who are nearly 100% without legal aid and LiPs undertaking such applications that it is clarified once and for all so that everyone actually knows what the hell is going on and what is meant to happen step by step!
TBF it really is laughable that it’s split everyone down the lines and this is meant to be a go to app for parents to get kids back – it sums the entire family court circuit up, one big joke from start to finish with no one knowing their ass from their elbow.
— Sarah Phillimore (@SVPhillimore) January 25, 2019
The parent has just texted. The court has decided to accept the C110A after all.
We urgently need to do better than this.