Section 34 contact order
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This is a court order that says who a child in care (so, looked after under a care order or interim care order) should see or keep in touch with. These orders are made under section 34 of the Children Act 1989.
Under Section 34, children’s services must allow the child to have ‘reasonable contact’ with:
- His or her parents, or anyone else who has parental responsibility.
- Any guardian or special guardian.
- Anyone named on a child arrangements order as the person who a child was to live with just before a care order was made.
These people can apply for a section 34 contact order if they feel children’s services are not agreeing a reasonable level of contact. Other relatives who are not listed in section 34 may also be able to apply for an order. But they would first need to obtain the court’s permission. This is known as asking for the ‘leave of the court‘.
A section 34 contact order is sometimes very straightforward. It may simply say that contact between the child and named person should take place.
A contact order can also include specific conditions and directions. For example:
- Where contact should take place
- On what dates, or
- Whether other specified people should be present during direct face-to-face contact, or that contact should be indirect only.
If a child is looked after in the care system under a voluntary arrangement then a section 34 contact order cannot be made.