Family disputes where children are involved need to be handled differently from other types of legal dispute. Such disputes require a practical approach that takes account of the interests of children, and takes advantage, wherever possible, of any compromise on offer. Family law statutory provisions explicitly provide that the welfare of children is a paramount consideration in such proceedings. Such disputes invariably involve dealing with statutory bodies such as the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (“CAFCASS”), and sometimes the local authority.
Child contact disputes usually involve the Family Court making one or more of the following kinds of orders:
- Child Arrangements Orders: the Family Court has the power to make an order concerning who a child is to live with, and what level of contact they are to have.
- Specific Issue Orders: where a child’s parents or guardians disagree about a specific decision in relation to an important aspect of a child’s life, the Family Court has the power to make such an order.
- Special Guardianship Orders: where a parent is unable to care for a child, the Family Court may give parental responsibility to a different person, often a relative. Special Guardianship Orders allocate parental responsibility without having the permanent effect that Adoption Orders do.
- Local Authority Care Orders: where a child is regarded to be suffering or likely to suffer from significant harm, or a deficiency in the standard of parental care or control, the Family Court may make an order that the child be taken into the care, or placed under the supervision of a local authority.
- Adoption Orders: under section 46 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, a Family Court may make an adoption order in specified circumstances. The effect of an order is to extinguish the parental responsibility of any other person.
Demstone Chambers’ family law barristers are able help with any aspect of child contact disputes, including: advising generally, preparing evidence bundles, liaising with CAFCASS or the Local Authority, and representation in the Family Court. Our family law services also include dispute resolution (e.g. Mediation) and advising on Divorce and Adoption related matters.