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HCR Law Events

31 January 2023

Section 8 of The Children Act 1989: an overview

Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 contains three orders that the Family Court can make in relation to a child or children. This article explains those orders in a little more detail.

Child Arrangements Orders

“A Child Arrangements Order” means an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the following:

  • With whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact
  • When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.”

This is an order that can specify who a child or children live with or how much time they spend with someone else. It can include details such as:

  • Where the child is handed over
  • Whether the contact is to be supervised or supported in some way
  • Other conditions, for example that the person having contact with the child must not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs before or during contact with the child or children

 Prohibited Steps Orders

“A Prohibited Steps Order” means an order that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his parental responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court.”

This is an Order that prohibits a person from doing something in relation to a child or children, or from making a particular decision about the child’s upbringing. For example, an order that prohibits a child’s non-resident parent from removing the child from the resident parent’s care. Other examples are preventing a third party from removing a child from school, taking them out of the country or changing their name/surname.

 Specific Issue Orders

“A Specific Issue Order means an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.”

This is an order that deals with specific issues that may arise in relation to a child or a children – it does what it says on the tin! A Specific Issue Order could, for example, grant a person permission to take a child or children on holiday out of the country, decide which school a child should go to or whether or not a child should have certain medical treatment e.g. vaccinations.

In summary

The powers of the Family Court are vast and varied; the court can therefore adapt the orders to meet the specific requirements of the case. The court’s priority is always to do what is in the best interests of the child or children.

Parents or other people with parental responsibility for a child do not need to seek the Court’s permission to make an application for a Section 8 Order, however, anyone else looking to apply for one of the orders must first be granted permission by the court to do so.

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About the Author
Penny-jo Wilson, Senior Associate

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