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It is possible to reach an agreement with the other party out of court at any time during the case.

This means you and the other party come to an agreement between yourselves rather than a judge.

As the courts operate a ‘no Order’ principle, it is generally the preference for the parents to agree a decision between themselves rather than a judge making one - see How judges decide child arrangements.

The process

The process to reach an agreement may take place between the legal representatives for the parties.

If you do not have one, the legal representative for the other party might make some proposals to you to try to reach an agreement. They may call, speak to you directly at court or write to you. Take notes to help you keep track. You can ask for time to consider their proposal.

You too may have a proposal to make to the other side. It is a good idea to put these proposals in writing.

You should check whether the correspondence from the other party is marked ‘without prejudice.’ When written or verbal communication is made ‘without prejudice,’ the person is making a genuine offer, so if their offer is rejected it cannot be used as evidence against them in court and cannot be shown to a judge.

Making the agreement formal

If you and the other party come to an agreement, a judge will want to make sure that both sides are happy with the agreement.

This can take place at the next hearing or you can ask the court how to request a hearing – see NICTS contact details or Court office emails.

If you would like the court to make this agreement formal, a judge can be asked to grant a Consent Order – see Types of family court Orders.

If you do not reach any agreement, the case will go ahead and a judge will make the decision on what the arrangements should be.