What’s in a name? Why so many complicated Forms to fill?

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

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.

Conclusion

(un)amusing postscript

The parent has just texted. The court has decided to accept the C110A after all.

We urgently need to do better than this.

10 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Why so many complicated Forms to fill?

  1. Jerry Lonsdale

    At Watford FC I was assissting with a discharge C.O app, Parent was told C79 by the court, obviously totally wrong, I think maybe the parent wasn’t explaining fully to the court staff.

    Once the C2 was used and accepted by the court office it became somewhat further troublesome because the parent was also asking the courts to make an order for more contact if the discharge application failed, despite that already requested on the C2 the parent was then told to fill in a C100 by the judge at a further cost to the parent, (parent did not qualify for Fee Remission form EX-160).

    Back when I was wearing short shorts and predating the revamp of these forms it was so much simpler using C1 and C2 forms, C1 for Local Authorities and C2 for parents, well, it was how it seemed to be ooop norf.

    I would go further with problem with these forms, for many of the forms it is very difficult for a LIP to SAVE the completed forms, which as we go “paperless” it is obviously quite an annoyance.

    Also in many instances with discharge applications the parent who is LIP won’t have to serve on the L.A et al, the courts generally do this so, as a consequence the Parent/LIP will not receive back from the courts a sealed application.

    Most often when I am asked for my assisstance I am forevermore chasing the courts for a copy of the initial application.

    As Mr Pack will be aware of the difficulty with Family Court forms there are plenty of nuances with the forms, C100 are generally for Child Arrangement Orders and are set out as if the Child is living with another parent, when you put on the form child is in Local Authority care the C100 becomes pretty pointless to complete, 16 pages simply don’t get used.

    The worse hurdle with a Family Court form I have ever encountered is for the application for contact with an adopted child, (Post adopton contact)

    A parent who attempts that form will not know the address of the “Respondent” because once an adopton order is made the Local Authority cease to have any involvement with the child, therefore the application becomes a minefield for the Parent to complete, they simply do not know most of what the form asks for.

    I am not sure if a simplified version for these forms would benefit given the plethora of different scenario’s folks face these days for family court matters.

    I would stress though, I think we need forms that seperate Public and Private matters completely, again a major issues like I said above with Watford giving the parent the C79 form.

    “A form, A form, My Kingdom for a form”

    Reply
  2. Adam

    I’ve issued two discharges on form C110A at different Courts without issue.

    The major advantage is it makes sure that the matter is dealt like (like all Part IV applications should be) under the Public Law Outline rules. That is to say – issued with 24 hours, advocates meetings, first hearing within 18 days. You can suggest standard directions on issue. You get the preferential treatment over and above what private law would give you. You also get a “C” case number (ZC19C0000….) to mark it out as public law.

    It follows that you would also use it for s34 Contact with a Child in Care Orders as they are also Part IV.

    Reply
  3. looked_after_child

    Happy New Year Sarah
    Really silly question but is there not something like this?

    A dedicated portal/website
    Questions
    Q -‘ what do you want to do’ with a list of dropdown options including ‘other’
    Q- Do you have legal advice or are you a LIP?
    Q – What is your post code or the name/location of Court/LA etc?

    Form generated depending on responses with links to help/FAQ on each question.
    Either print out the completed form or submit electronically via the portal

    You tube on what to do/how to it..

    Thinking something like this
    https://www.planningportal.co.uk/applications

    or is that too simplistic?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I don’t think there is and of course there should be. The Government has to accept at some point that if it removes legal aid then all its complicated fiddly forms are going to be filled in by litigants in person. So the legal gatekeeping about the content of the forms will inevitably have to move to the court. So either simplify the forms/procedures or accept that.

      I think your idea sounds brilliant. I would have one simple form – what is your name/address etc. How is best to contact you? What do you want the court to do? Please give names/addresses of all the other people who need to know about this. Give a brief explanation of what’s going on. If you know the particular section of the particular Act you want to rely on, state it here.

      Reply
    1. Angelo Granda

      The easiest thing to do in my experience is to visit personally the court office where the order you wish to appeal and take a copy of the Court order itself. They will give you a pack containing the correct form with accompanying advice and directions. Return it in person within 21 days and they check it,will put the official court stamp on it and issue you with a signed and dated receipt. Then sit back,your application ( right or wrong form is in within the time limits). I f they have issued it to you , it is probably the right one but if not ,it is not your fault and any delay is down to them.
      They may after processing it,send it back to you and ask you to send it to the appeal court in London but the original date of receipt stamp on it will be the one accepted.
      The important point is you must go to the office and handle matters in person not go online for forms and so on.

      Reply
      1. Angelo Granda

        Sorry, i forgot to mention the same applies with discharge applications etc. too!
        I advise you to go to the Court office with a copy of the relevant order.

        Reply
  4. Pingback: I don’t agree with the care order – what can I do? Appeals and Discharge of order | Child Protection Resource

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