Family law

Child court orders

The Family Court puts the needs and welfare of children first at all times, sometimes using a range of court orders to do so. Our family law experts are here to help if you need to apply for a child court order.

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What is a child court order?

The Family Court has a clear commitment to looking after the interests of children above all else.

So when divorce or separation means that parents are at loggerheads with regard to parenting issues or childcare arrangements, the family court can make a number of orders to ensure that the interests of the child are always put first.

Our experienced family lawyers can help you to understand when a child court order may be appropriate, and also represent you in court when you make an application for a child court order.

The most commonly used child court orders are:

  • Child arrangement orders
  • Specific Issue Orders
  • Prohibited Steps Orders

These are collectively known as Section 8 Orders, because they are referred to in Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. Most parents have the right to apply for a Section 8 Order relating to their children, though other family members and even children themselves may be able to apply for one of these orders.

Once granted, they will usually remain in force until the child reaches the age of 16.

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order will set out with which parent a child will live and how often the child will see the other parent. The court can also make a Shared Care Arrangement that provides for the child to live with both parents in their respective homes and sets out exactly how the time between the two parental homes must be divided.

There is no set rule for how time will be divided, but it is fairly common for a child to stay with one parent on school nights and the other at weekends.

The law's position is very much that it is the child's right to have a relationship with both of their parents, rather than the other way round. So the starting point for all child arrangements is that the child should see both parents regularly, unless it can be demonstrated that this would adversely affect the child's welfare.

If a child lives with one parent, he or she will regularly spend time with the other parent. The child arrangement order will usually set out specific times and dates for this.

The arrangements can deal with face to face time with the parent as well as communication by video call. It will also include the time that the child stays with the other parent.

What is a Specific Issue Order?

As you might expect, these orders deal with a specific issue relating to a child's upbringing.

Common examples of this include deciding on what school a child should attend, whether they should have a certain operation or vaccination, specific issues about religious upbringing and where they may go on holiday.

A Specific Issue Order grants permission (or not) to either parent to undertake the specified course of action, even if one parent does not agree with it.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

Prohibited Steps Orders also deal with specific issues, but instead of granting permission to do something, they prevent the person named in the order from taking a particular course of action in relation to the child.

Examples of a Prohibited Steps Order would be those preventing a named parent from changing the child's name or school, from undertaking religious rites such as a circumcision or christening, or from removing the child from England and Wales at any time.

Need help with a child's court order?

It goes without saying that child court orders are usually only necessary when parents can't agree over the best arrangements for their child or children.

So when you need support and advice about child court orders or any other aspect of child arrangements, you should feel free to speak to one of our family law experts by calling 0330 041 5869 or contact us online today and we will call you.

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