Children & The Family Courts – Types of Orders Available

When parents separate and before issuing any proceedings, parents are encouraged to attempt to reach an agreement regarding the child(ren). If the arrangements are agreed, then there is no need for the Court to intervene. Parents are encouraged to reach an agreement regarding the child(ren) wherever possible.

However, and in the event that your last resort becomes Court proceedings, you will need to understand the types of Orders that are available under the Children Act 1989.

What Types Of Orders Are Available?

The types of Orders that are available are as follows:

1. Child Arrangements Order – this type of Order decides the arrangements for whom a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with. The Order will set out where the child shall live and the time the child spends with the other parent.

Example: If your child lives with your ex-partner, and you want to see your child on, for example, weekends, and this is not agreed with your ex-partner.

2. Specific Issue Order – this type of Order gives the parties a specific instruction in relation to a specific issue that has arisen.

Example: If you and your ex-partner cannot agree the school that your child will attend.

3. Prohibited Steps Order – this type of Order means that a particular person must have the Court’s permission before doing something as set out in the Order, that would normally be done by a parent.

Example: If a parent needs the Court’s permission before taking the child to a foreign country or prohibiting a particular person from being around the child.

4. Parental Responsibility Order – parental responsibility (PR) means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child.

Example: If you are the father of a child but you were not married to the child’s mother and were not named on the birth certificate when the child’s birth was registered, but you want to be recognised legally as the child’s father.

It should be noted however, that the Court will only make an Order if the Court believes that this would be in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, a Court may decide that it would not be in the child’s best interest to make an Order.

The Court has the options to:

1. Make an Order (examples above);

2. Change an Order (“varying” the Order);

3. End an Order (“discharging” the Order).

Do I Need Permission To Apply For An Order?

Some people have the right to apply for an Order and some people must first obtained permission of the Court to make an application to apply for an Order. What are these categories?

Those that have the right to apply for an Order include:

1. The mother of the child;

2. The father of the child;

3. The parent of the child under section 42 or 43 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008;

4. If you’re married to or in a civil partnership with the parent of the child who has PR (i.e. a step-parent).

You should note that, if you are the child’s grandparents, you may apply to the Court for an Order appointing you as a guardian to that child.

You should seek legal advice before making an application to the Court to ensure that you are making the correct application and that you have the right to do so.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a person fully qualified before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Emma Aslett

Penn Chambers Solicitors

0207 183 459

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