Application being filed

Once it has been agreed that the application can be issued and the court issues the application, they will undertake the following actions:-

Firstly, the case will be allocated a number which in relation to a children case will have a designation of the court (Truro is TR), the year that the application is issued and then the number being the application issued within that year.

Once the court staff have issued the order, it is presented to a ‘gatekeeping’ Judge who will check the urgency of the matter and determine which level the hearing needs to take place, i.e., before the Magistrates, in the Country Court before District judge, or before a Circuit Judge or a High Court Judge.

Once the level of allocation has been determined, the court will send a copy of the application to the other party and notify you that the application has been issued along with an order for a first hearing dispute resolution appointment (FHDRA) at the appropriate court.

At the same time the court will decide whether the hearing needs to be attended, i.e., the parties all have to attend the named and designated court or whether the case will be dealt with by way of Microsoft Teams (see further below).


The court should remit the application to Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory Service) risk assessment team.

Cafcass are then directed to undertake police and social service background checks in respect of each of the parties and generally telephone each of the parties to get an understanding of the case and whether there are any significant welfare issues or risks.

The Cafcass will then write to the court setting out the results of their investigations, the telephone communications with the parties and identify whether they believe that there are any significant risks or concerns arising in relation to the children and any outcome which might arise from the proceedings.

In the event that there are, Cafcass may well set out a series of recommendations and proposed courses of action for the court to consider.

Sometimes Cafcass will send a copy of this letter to each of the parties in advance of the hearing so that they know what is being said, but on occasion they do not. This may be in situation where they consider that the remission of said communication would place one or other of the parties or indeed the child at risk if it was disclosed.

This ‘safeguarding’ letter should be available to the court at the first hearing dispute resolution appointment.

The ‘Respondent’

At the same time that the court sends the notice of the application and its issue to the ‘Respondent’, other documents are also remitted to them.

Those documents include an Acknowledgement of Service form to be completed and returned to the court so that the court can be satisfied that the appropriate person has received notification of the proceedings and has received the relevant papers.

The Respondent may then need to undertake some additional actions.

First hearing

Unless it is an emergency application, in general terms the court will set the first hearing for the relevant magistrates or Judge approximately 28 days after the application has been issued. The safeguarding communication should have been completed and sent to the court within that timeframe.

Unfortunately, there are occasions where this does not occur and this may then subsequently lead to further delay whilst the court adjourns the first hearing for that letter to be secured and produced.

During the course of the pandemic when it was not possible for parties to attend court (and all court hearings prior to this were attended) the process of remote hearings was developed which are now conducted via ‘Microsoft Teams’.

The court therefore when deciding to list the case for its first hearing will decide whether it is going to required attendance where the parties attend court at a specified time and usually a direction to attend about an hour before for any pre-hearing discussions or alternatively to now list it as a remote hearing to be conducted via ‘Microsoft Teams’.

In the event that the court does specify that the hearing should take place by way of Microsoft Teams as well as notifying the parties in due course it will provide a link which can be utilised to joint the court hearing.

The court will also often, in order to replicate the process whereby the parties attend court and have the opportunity to discuss the case, negotiate and reach some consensus if possible about either the outcome or the way forward require the parties to have a pre-hearing discussion on Microsoft Teams about an hour before the listed hearing time.

If attended when attending court, the court usher should be contacted to confirm attendance and if by way of Microsoft Teams then the court link should be linked on at due time to be joined in the hearing by the Judge.


If you have asked any questions relating to what occurs upon issuing an application through the family court and would now like more information on the different types of proceedings relating to children, please get in touch with our Family team, we would be happy to assist you.

This article is part of a series on Private Family Law and Children Law proceedings. If you would like to learn more about the rules around parental responsibility, contact, holidays and arrangements for separated parents, please click here for the full series.