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Child arrangement orders

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When there is a dispute in relation to or about the children this can be a very distressing time, not only for the parents or carers involved who are responsible for their welfare, but also for the children themselves. 

The Children Act 1989 allows the court to make orders which helps resolve disputes that occur surrounding children. The type of orders that are available are as follows: 

  • A Child Arrangements Order covers who the children live with and who they visit or stay with. This can include details such as how long the visits are, when and where they take place, and whether there are any restrictions such as supervision 
  • A Specific Issues Order deals with a specific question that may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility. Generally, this will be to do with a dispute about where the children should go to school, in what religion they should be brought up or, for example, where a parent is seeking a change of their children’s surname 
  • A Prohibited Steps Order deals with an issue which has arisen due to a person exercising their parental responsibility.  For example, this could be to do with taking their children out of their legal jurisdiction; preventing a person from taking the child to a potentially dangerous place; or overnight visits. This type of order can be made against anyone, including third parties, not just parents 

Family mediation may be the first (and best) port of call if you are wanting to resolve a dispute, although it may be unsuitable for a number of reasons, such as in circumstances where there is domestic violence or child abuse.  Anyone intending to make a court application in relation to their child/children under section 8 will have to, at least, go through this process beforehand to have their suitability assessed. 

It is important to seek legal advice on the correct procedure in these types of cases and find out what outcome you could realistically expect to achieve. 

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