Children Matters and the Courts – What Orders Can I Apply For?

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.


Childrens matters and court orders - blog

“Summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind” or maybe not?

The summer holidays are fast approaching and this is usually a time when families are packing their suitcases and heading to the airport to enjoy a much needed break in the sunshine.

However, when parents separate or divorce things can be extremely difficult. It is not necessarily a commonly known fact that should one parent wish to take the children abroad, that the written consent of the other parent is needed (unless one parent has an Order providing that the children live with one parent meaning that they can take them abroad for 28 days without the other parent’s consent. However, we would always encourage parents to speak to each other and plan ahead). Unfortunately, where there is animosity between the parents this can lead to difficulties meaning that the children are unable to travel.

At McCarthy Bennett Holland Solicitors we believe in providing practical advice to try to avoid such difficulties and to encourage the parents to continue to co-parent even when they are separated.

So what advice can we provide?

  1. Make plans in advance and speak to the other parent about your plans. Provide full details of flight times, accommodation and emergency contact details.
  2. Obtain the other parent’s consent before making any formal booking. Ensure this consent is in writing and put this with the children’s passports for safekeeping.
  3. Consider where you wish to travel to i.e. is this a safe destination? The other parent is more likely to be concerned about your holiday plans and be reluctant to provide consent if they are not in the best interests of the children.
  4. Be flexible in agreeing alternative arrangements for contact with the other parent if the holiday impacts upon their normal contact so that no one feels that they are missing out.
  5. Remember that the paramount consideration is the best interests of the children and therefore it is extremely important to put parental conflict to one side and let common sense prevail.

In the event that consent is unreasonably withheld by the other parent, it is possible to make an application to the Court but this will need to be made well in advance of the holiday and should always be a last resort.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further. McCarthy Bennett Holland are able to offer a free 30 minute initial consultation and are more than happy to assist. Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”


Disputes over children are becoming more and more common as time goes on. The Courts have tried to combat this by insisting that for every dispute over children the parties have to attend mediation before they are able to turn to the Courts.  Unfortunately, I find that clients who come to see me at this stage fall into 2 categories:

  1. They just want advice before they tell their ex-partner that they are not happy with the current situation.
  2. They have already told their ex-partner they are not happy with the situation which has already led to a fall out and increased animosity between them.

I find that if the parties fall into (1) above then mediation is definitely worthwhile and should be encouraged. Unfortunately, if it is (2) the majority of time mediation does not assist as the party’s communication has already broken down and they are unable to mediate over the issues.

Most arguments ensue because each party believes that it is their decision what should happen with the child and they fail to realise that it is the child’s right to contact with each parent. The Court will always allow sufficient contact with a parent unless that parent is a risk to the child.

If mediation does not work then a Court application is always open to the parties. I find that when Court attendance becomes necessary it can take a lot of work for the parties to begin communicating again.  Furthermore, the decision in respect of contact is taken out of the parents hands and is put into the hands of the Courts.  Not everyone is always happy with the outcome.  It should be encouraged at every stage for the parties to try and agree what is in the best interests of their child.  I find that if the parties can work together then they remain happier in the long term which will benefit their child.

This is why in most cases I always strongly advise my client’s to try and work it out between themselves first.  Come see me for a free 30 minute appointment, take my advice and try and work it out between yourselves.  Solicitor involvement should only be where all other lines of communication have failed.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”