The short answer is usually, no. It is often necessary to involve the court where parents cannot agree arrangements for the child, for example where the child should live and what, if any, time the child should spend with the other parent.
But, what happens when one parent makes repeated applications to the court about the child?
The court can make an order barring a parent from making further applications to court, without the permission of the court. Very often, it is referred to as a ‘section 91(14) order’ – referring to the fact that the relevant piece of legislation is section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.
Section 91(14) orders are often relevant where one parent has been subjected to coercive control by the other parent. Unfortunately, the court often see that parents make repeated applications in relation to the children, not because they believe that those applications are in the child’s interest, but because they use the repeated applications as a continuous form of control.
Sometimes, at the conclusion of proceedings, a parent is directed by the court to access certain professional support or help before the time that they spend with their children can progress. It can often end up that the parent does not access this support or help and instead makes a further application to the court, often with the same outcome as previous proceedings.
If repeated applications are being made, this can prolong litigation and can result in an acrimonious situation. Parents being involved in lengthy litigation, can have a significant impact upon the welfare of the child. If the same outcome is being reached at the end of each set of proceedings, it may be necessary for the court to consider preventing a parent from making further applications for a period of time.
Section 91(14) orders are rare, as they are considered a draconian step by the court. If the court make a section 91(14) order, this prevents the recipient from making an application in relation to the child without permission of the court, for a specified period of time.
If parents cannot agree arrangements, then the court are there to make the decision that it is in the best interests of the child. The court are mindful of their role and for this reason, you need to be able to justify to the court why this order is necessary.
Specific procedural rules apply when making an application for a section 91(14) order and it is therefore important that you access legal advice if you are considering making this application.