An application is often made to the Courts when there are disputes between parties in respect of children matters. It is often the case that other forms of dispute resolution, including solicitor’s negotiations and Mediation, is unsuitable or unsuccessful, given the height of emotions when dealing with sensitive matters. Mediation however, is a requirement before applying to the Courts.
Contained within Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, there are 3 orders which can be applied in the Family Courts. These are:
- Child Arrangement Order
- Prohibited Steps Order
- Specific Issue Order
The mother of the child/ren can apply for any of these orders, and the father of the child/ren may do the same, providing he is named on the birth certificate. Should this not be the case, or the applicant is another family member, they should firstly apply for leave (permission) of the court to make the application.
Child Arrangement Order
A Child Arrangement Order is an order which formalises contact arrangements between the parties. Such order will state exactly what time the child/ren should spend with each party, as well as any indirect contact. There are orders which will provide which party member the child/ren is to live with. An order provided by the Courts is an enforceable order, meaning if this is breached, the matter can be returned to Court for Enforcement proceedings. This is often required when parents are unable to agree on contact arrangements.
Prohibited Steps Order
A Prohibited Steps Order is an order from the Court which forbids a party from doing something which relates to the child/ren. For example, a Prohibited Steps order can be placed on a party who intends to move with the child/ren, to another part of the country, without prior consent of the Mother/Father. In essence, a Prohibited Steps Order places a restriction on a parent’s parental responsibility of the child/ren.
Specific Issue Order
A Specific Issue Order is an order which can arise following the dispute over a particular issue. This could be, for example, in relation to the child/ren’s schooling, medical treatment, surname, and so on.
In all cases brought to the Family Court, a supervisor from CAFCASS (Children and Family Advisory and Support Services) will be involved, even prior to the initial hearing. The role of CAFCASS is to consider all aspects of the case and provide recommendations to the Court as to what they believe to be a reasonable outcome.
Whilst making any decisions, the Court will have regard to Section 1 of the Children Act 1989, and the Welfare Checklist. The Courts paramount concern is the safety and well-being of the child/ren.
Have you had troubles with your former partner, or family member in relation to children matters? Please contact us for a free 30 minute appointment with Gillian Lavelle, or Megan Brookfield on 01942 206060.