If you are going to the Family Court to seek child contact or residence, you may have been directed as to a date when your statement must be sent to all parties.
Rules Governing Court Statements
Statements for the Family Court are governed by the Family Proceedings Rules 1991, which state particular rules that should be followed;
- The statement must be signed, dated and contain a declaration that you believe the statement is true and recognise it may be placed before the court.
- On the top left-hand side of your statement, detail the court in capital letters, e.g. IN THE LONDON FAMILY COURT and the case number on the top right-hand side.
- You should include the names of the parties; ‘Between (name of Applicant) with ‘Petitioner’ at the right-hand side, and then underneath; ‘And’, followed by the name of the Respondent and ‘Respondent’ at the right-hand side.
- In the centre, you should include the ‘title’. If you are the Applicant, the title would be ‘Petitioner’s Statement on Child Residence/Contact’ (as appropriate) or vice versa if you are responding to the mother’s petition.
Begin with the reason you are making this statement, i.e. I am making this statement in response to my wife's/ partner's petition or; this statement reflects the concerns I have for my child’s future should my wife/partner obtain a divorce.
You should summarise what you wish the court to order, and why you believe they should grant the order. For example:
- Times of the week you feel your child should spend with each parent, e.g. your days off are Monday to Wednesday, when their mother is working.
- That your children are mature enough to decide/influence the decision themselves.
- Positive attributes that both parents can offer.
- Benefits of having Shared Care of both the mother and father.
- Give good reason as to why an order should be granted and is in your child’s best interests.
Give the court some insight into each child individually, including:
- Your children’s age and maturity level, relevant if you believe they can decide who they wish to live with for themselves.
- Detail your relationship with your children previously compared with your relationship now.
- How the break up has affected them, for example, if you have always had a good relationship with them and without an order in place meetings will be difficult.
- How they will be affected without an order, if you believe they would be unhappy and why.
- Why you believe Contact/ Residency with you will benefit them.
- Anything in support of your case. If, for example, in a separate meeting with a Welfare Officer, your child may have stated repeatedly that they wished to live with you.
You should air any concerns that you have. Examples may be:
- Unacceptable Behaviour by your wife - this has to sensible, true and unemotional.
- You are worried that without the order you will not be able to maintain regular contact.
- Perhaps your wife plans on moving away due to work, which would affect your child’s stability with schooling, family and friend relationships etc.
Evidence is key to making your case stand in court, so get as many statements as possible from supportive people.