The old concept of contact and residence was replaced and has been known as Child Arrangement Orders since the Children and Family Act 2014 came into force, amending the existing Children Act 1989.
Under the provisions of the Children Act 1989, orders regulating important issues relating to the child’s upbringing and living arrangements can be made.
The Court has the power to make the following orders (known as Section 8 Orders):
- Child Arrangement Orders – This will regulate the arrangements such as where should the children reside and how much contact the non-resident parent should have with the children.
- Prohibited Steps Order – this order prevents a parent or another from acting in a particular matter. For example, from removing the child from the care and control of a primary carer or even from removing the child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
- Specific Issue Order – this order is to resolve a particular issue about how a child is to be brought up if the parents cannot agree, ie what religion the child should be brought up in, what school they should attend.
A mother or a father with or without parental responsibility can apply for Section 8 Orders. Anyone else who is not a biological or adoptive parent must seek leave (permission) of the Court to apply, save for grandparents who no longer require permission.
In any dispute over a child, the Courts will refer the matter in the first instance to CAFCASS who will carry out a risk assessment. The Courts will treat the welfare of the child as their paramount consideration hence an order will only be made if it is in the child’s best interests to do so.