General Disclaimer: Nothing presented constitutes legal advice and the McKenzie Friend UK Network is not a legal entity or in anyway claims to be a 'legal resource'. The resource guide is supported by McKenzie Friends and Litigants in person for Litigants in Person in Family Court. McKenzie Friends provide layperson support as an informed friend under the Family Court Practrice Guidance of 2010. All information is published under the spirit of that guidance. For any corrections of the information, please contact the McKenzie Friend UK Network
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(A general guide - variations may apply)
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Section 8 Children Act 1989
Section 8 Children Act 1989
A 'child arrangements order' means an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the
(a) whith who a child is to live, spend time, or otherwise have contact, and
(b) where a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
Specific Issues Order
A 'Specific Isues Order' is an order to determine a specific question whaich has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.
Prohibited Steps Order
A 'Prohibitive Steps Order' is an order that prohibits a parent from exercising any aspect of their parental responsibility without the consent of the court. READ MORE
The Welfare Check List Under Section 8 Children Act 1989
91(14) Barring Order
A Section 91(14) Order is known as a 'barring order' and relates to Section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989. This type of Order allows the court to prevent individuals, usually parents, from making an application to the court without the court's permission READ MORE
Internal Relocations (Within UK)
External Relocations (Outside UK)
Who Can Apply?
Certain categories of people are entitled to make an application for a child arrangements order under Section 8 without having to seek permission from the court first, and they are:
  • the parent, guardian or special guardian of a child;
  • any person who has parental responsibility;
  • anyone who holds a residence order in respect of the child;
  • any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family;
  • anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years;
  • anyone who has obtained the consent of:
    a) the local authority if the child is in their care; or
    b) everyone who has parental responsibility for the child.
Where permission is needed, for example an application by Grandparents, the court must consider (Children Act 1989 Section 10(9):
1) the nature of the application
2) the applicant's connrection to the child
3) any risks there may be of the application distupting the child's life causeing harm
4) where the child is in the care of the loacal authority: a) the plans of the authority for the child, b) the wishes and feelings of the child's parents.
Other factors can be considered such as the wishes and feelign fo the child.
Grandparents and others: Leave to apply for access - Briefing Paper House of Commons
A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is part of the legal process in England and Wales, specifically related to family law matters. In April 2014, the UK government introduced a requirement for those seeking to take certain family law disputes to court to attend a MIAM first. The purpose of the MIAM is to provide information about alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, as a means to resolve issues outside of the court system.
During the MIAM, a qualified mediator speaks with each party in the dispute (usually a separating or divorcing couple) to explain the mediation process and explore whether mediation might be a suitable option for resolving their issues. The mediator will assess whether mediation is appropriate and safe in the circumstances.
The MIAM was introduced to encourage parties to consider mediation before going to court, as mediation can often be a less adversarial and more cost-effective way to resolve disputes, especially in family-related matter
If any party is exempt from the MIAM or if mediation is not successful, then either party can progress to making an application to the court
Find a McKenzie Friend to help you plan and prepare for your mediation
Practice Directions 3A Family Mediation and the MIAM
The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
The C100 application is a specific form used in family law matters in the United Kingdom. It is officially known as "Form C100: Application under the Children Act 1989 for a child arrangements, prohibited steps, specific issue order or to vary or discharge or ask permission to make a section 8 order."
The C100 form is typically used by parents or guardians who wish to apply to the court for certain orders regarding child arrangements, such as custody and visitation rights, or to address specific issues related to the child's upbringing. The form can be used in various situations, such as divorce or separation, where parents need the court's intervention to resolve disputes about their children's welfare.
C100 Online Application
Practice Directions: Application to the Court
Form C7
Form C8
STEP 3: Allocation and Gatekeeping
On receipt of the application, the court will conduct 'gatekeeping' to determine that nature of the application, whether it is urgent and should be held with or without notice, and to allocate the case to either a District Judge or to Magistrates.
Unless the application is accepted as 'without notice' the other party will receive a copy of the application, will be required to complete the C7 acknowledgement form and to complete the C1a 'Making or Responding to allegations of Harm and Domestic Violence'.

A directions letter willthen be sent to the parties with a date of the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment, and a notice that Cafcass will be in contact to conduct their Safeguarding Call.


Practice Directions: Allocation and Gatekeeping
Practice Directions: Urgent and Without Notice Hearings
STEP 4: The Safeguarding Phone Call + Letter
In most cases, both parties will receive a phone call from a Cafcass Family Court Advisor. The purpose of the call is to ty to find out if there are any concerns about the safety and welfare of your children.

At least three days before the first court hearing Cafcass will provide the court with a short report on the outcomes of the safeguarding checks and any child welfare issues raised by each of the parties. This is known as a safeguarding letter.

Practice Directions: Safeguarding
The Cafcass Interview Plan
Recording Cafcass Interviews
Example of Safeguarding Letter
STEP 5: The First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment
Prior to the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment, it is the convention for both parties to file and serve Position Statements.

A Position Statement is a written statement that outlines the person's position, views, and preferences regarding specific issues related to the family matter being addressed in court. The purpose of a Family Court Position Statement is to provide the court with a clear understanding of the person's stance on the disputed matters. Position statement should be no more than 3 sides of A4 paper and should be restricted to a persons position and not contain arguments around litigation or evidence (see source FHDRA and Evidence).

The purpose of the FHDRA is for the court to:

  • obtain initial information about the case;
  • consider welfare and harm issues;
  • determine whether a Fact-Finding on allegation of domestic abuse is needed by applying Practice Directions 12;
  • consider whether any interim orders can be made by consent;
  • to determien whether Cafcass needs to prepare a Section 7 report.


Practice Directions: The First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment
The Role of Cafcass at the FHDRA
Example of a Position Statement
Practice Directions 12J: Domestic Violence and Harm
STEP 6: Fact Finding or Section 7 Report
FACT FINDINGS   Section 7 Report
A Fact-Finding Hearing in Family Court is a legal proceeding conducted to determine the truth of disputed facts in a family law case.   A Section 7 Interview and Section 7 Report refers to Section 7 of the Children Act 1989 and gives the Court the power to request that a Court Officer (Cafcass, a Welsh Family Proceedings Officer, or a Local Authority Social Services) to report to the court on matters relating to the welfare of the child or children.
STEP 7: The Dispute Resolution Appointment
The Dispute Resolution Appointment usually follows the Section 7 Report. The purpose of the Dispute Resolution Appointment is to consider the recommendations by the Section 7 Report and to determine the position of each party in relation to the recommendations.

It is convention that both parties will submit and serve a Position Statement prior to the DRA outlining their position in response to the Cafcass Report.

At the DRA, the Cafcass Family Court Advisor will speak to both parties separately. The aim is to establish whether there is either agreement with the recommendations, whether there are part agreements (narrowing down the issues), or whether the parties are still at disagreement with little resolution.

At the Dispute Resolution Appoiuntment the Cafcass Officer will usually then update the court as to any progress.

If there is agreement, the court may make a Final Order based on the consent of both parties.

Where there is no agreement, the court will set a date for a Final Hearing.

The court will determine whether the Cafcass Family Court Advisor will be required to attend the Final Hearing to give evidence ont heir Section 7 Report and to be cross examined.

Practice Directions: The DRA
STEP 8: The Final Hearing
Prior to the Final Hearing, both parties will file and serve a Final Statement of their positions and providing any evidence that they rely on. With the permission of the court, the parties may also rely on witnesses.

At the Final Hearing both parties can be cross examined and both parties can cross examine Cafcass and any other witnesses.

Where there are allegations of domestic abuse, both parties may qualify for a Qualified Legal Representative (QLR) to conduct cross examinations.

After the cross examinations, both parties will be able to provide final submissions to the court. The court will then make a Final Judgement.

Qualified Legal Representatives
STEP 9: The Final Order
The contact arrangements set out in a Child Arrangements Order remain legally binding until the child reaches the age of 16 unless the order specifically states otherwise. This is in accordance with section 91(10) of the Children Act 1989. After this point it will be up to the child to decide how much contact they would like to have with the parent they do not live with.

The ‘live with’ element of a Child Arrangements Order remains legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18, however the Court are very reluctant to enforce such orders beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Slip Rule: The court may correct an accidental slip or omission in a judgment or order
The General Principles
  • The court can only make orders based on the factors of the Child Welfare Checklist
  • All decisions are made on balance of probability
  • The Welfare of the child is paramount.
  • Parental Responsibility does not provide the right for a parent to have a relationship with their child, it is the right of the child to have a relationship with their parents, if safe to do so.
  • It is an irrebutable truth that you don't ned paid lawyers in the family court.
Can a parent be forced to have contact?
    Generally not as it would appear not to be in the best interests of a child to force contact with a parent who does not wish to engage.
Can a parent apply for a 'no contact order' on the other parent?
    Sir James Mumby in QvQ (Contact 2016 EWFC 5. Court can make an order for no contact but this is should be rare and exceptional:

'Plainly the order the mother seeks is most unusual; indeed, it lies at the very extremities of the court’s powers. Almost always there should be some contact between child and parent. It will only be in a rare and exceptional case that the court will agree that there should be none.'

What is a 91(14) Barring Order?
    A Section 91(14) Order is known as a 'barring order' and relates to Section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989. This type of Order allows the court to prevent individuals, usually parents, from making an application to the court without the court's permission READ MORE
The resident parent is resisting contact, will the court act on this?
    Many non-resident parents major on the lack of promotion of contact by the resident parent with calls of 'parental alienation, and use this as the foundation for pursuing contact. The realist is however frequently different to that parent's expectation. READ MORE
Mother accused of parental alienation wins appeal over psychological assessment
Lying in the Family Court
Shared Care and Joint Lives with Orders
Parental Responsibility Sections 3 and 4 of the Children Act 1989
Re H-N (children)(domestic abuse:finding of fact hearings) 2021 EWCA Civ 448.
Costs in Children Cases: Taken from 'In the matter of S (A Child) before Lady Hale, Deputy President JUDGMENT 25 March 2015.
Internal Relocation within UK
Permission to Relocate
The Label of 'Parental Alienation'
The Instruction of Experts where there are allegations of Parental Alienation
Parental Responsibility following negative paternity test results 3 cases of interest:
  • A Local Authority v SB & Ors [2022] EWFC 111 (15 July 2022)
  • Re C&A (Children: Acquisition and discharge of parental responsibility by an unmarried father) [2023] EWHC 516 (9 March 2023)
  • A Local Authority v SB & Ors [2023] EWFC 58 (23 March 2023)
  • Read the Key Principles from each case CLICK HERE
    Court of Appeal Judgement: EWCA/Civ/2023/858.html : The judge found that E's mother was the perpetrator of injuries inflicted on E on 30 July 2021. The issue in this appeal is whether the failure of the local authority to disclose a viability assessment and associated documents in relation to the paternal grandmother ("PGM") meant that the judge's finding in relation to the mother was wrong or unjust.
    S (A Child [2023] EWCA Civ 706: Successful appeal against refusal to join father without PR as party to care proceedings.
    The Case Law National Archive
    Family Court News
    Mother accused of parental alienation wins appeal over psychological assessment
    Added to the Resource Library: Case Law Lying in the Family Court
    Added to Resource Library: Economic Abuse in Financial Settlements
    Added to Resource Library: Case Law on Joint 'Lives With' Order
    Can a Fact-Finding Ever be reopenned?
    Parental Responsibility and the falsehood of paternity.
    Keep AI Away from the Family Courts
    Children Left in Limbo Waiting for Family Court Decisions
    Delays in the Family Court
    Pre-nups Will they hold up?
    Other Great Resources
    Philip Kedge is a retired police Chief Inspector and the founder and director of the McKenzie Friend UK Network. His aim is to take family court matters out of the hands of lawyers with an ethical business to reduce conflict and acrimony, to provide access to cost effective McKenzie Friend national services, to offer training and to reduce the emotional harm to children.
    Phil is the founder of the National
    Campaign #lightnothate