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Section 8 Orders

Court orders made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 are generally made to resolve private law disputes. For example, a dispute between parents about where a child should live.

These are mostly cases in which children’s services are not involved. However, section 8 orders can be made in respect of children who are looked after. Children’s services can apply for some section 8 orders.

Section 8 provides for three different court orders. These are:

  • Child arrangements order. This is an order setting out who a child will live with and spend time with (i.e. have contact with). Children’s services cannot apply for a child arrangements order. However, if a family member applies for a child arrangements order in relation to a looked after child, children’s services may agree this is what is best for the child. They may support the family member to make the order. For example children’s services might pay their legal fees.
  • Prohibited steps order. This order directs the person named in the order not to carry out a specific act. For example, not to take the child out of the country without the agreement of the court. Children’s services can apply for a prohibited steps order for a child for whom they have parental responsibility. For example where they have a care order.
  • Specific issue order. This is an order that deals with a specific matter, such as what school to attend, or whether a child should receive a particular health treatment, when the people who have parental responsibility cannot agree on what should be done. Children’s services can apply for a specific issue order for a child for whom they have parental responsibility.

As with public law court orders, a court will apply the welfare principle before making a court order under section 8.

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