Child arrangement orders
When there is a dispute in relation to or about the children of the family this can be a very distressing time, not only for the parents or carers involved who are responsible for the welfare of that child, but also for the child themselves.
The Children Act 1989 allows the court to make orders in respect of the children which assists in resolving disputes that occur surrounding them. The type of orders that are available are as follows:
- A Child Arrangements Order, which covers who the child lives with and who the child visits or stays with. This can include details such as how long the visits are, when they take place, where they take place and whether there are any restrictions on this visit/stay such as supervision.
- A Specific Issues Order, deals with a specific question which may arise in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child. This will generally be to do with a dispute about where the child should go to school, in what religion the child should be brought up in or where a parent is seeking a change of their child’s surname for example.
- A Prohibited Steps Order, deals specifically with an issue which has arisen due to a person exercising their parental responsibility. This could be, for example, to do with taking the child out of the 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.
In relation to these disputes, family mediation may be the first port of call for those persons wanting to resolve the dispute, although it may be unsuitable for a number of reasons, for example, in circumstances where there is domestic violence or child abuse. Anyone intending on making an application to the court 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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