When a relationship ends, working out arrangements for children is sometimes one of the most sensitive aspects of the separation to resolve. When a court decides any issue relating to a child’s upbringing or the management of his or her affairs it must make the child’s welfare the paramount consideration. This is known as the welfare principle. It applies to issues affecting children irrespective of whether these arise in the context of a divorce or separation.

The principle is given overriding importance and there are some who believe this gives too much discretion to judges. But it brings flexibility to bear on what may otherwise be intractable situations. It is key to understanding how the law in children cases is applied.

The Section 8 Orders

The Children Act, 1989 was amended by the Children and Families Act, 2014. There are now the following orders available under Section 8:

  • Child Arrangement Orders
    • Residence Order – sets out whom the child will live with. In the past this was known as ‘custody’.
    • Contact Order – indicates the person or person(s) the child can visit or have other contact with. If it is in the child’s interest, contact may be supervised.
  • Prohibited Steps Order – To prevent someone – not necessarily a parent from carrying out a particular action without the court’s agreement. For example, removing a child from the jurisdiction, having contact with a named individual, changing a child’s surname. Save for exceptional circumstances these orders can only be made in relation to a child under 16.
  •  Specific Issue Order – Usually relating to education questions, medical decisions and holidays these resolve a single issue that has or may arise in respect of a child’s upbringing.

The Welfare Checklist

When deciding on section 8 orders, judges must consider the checklist set out in section 1 of the Children Act, 1989. The factors that must be taken into account are as follows:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into account age and understanding
  • Physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect of any change in circumstances
  • Age, sex, background
  •  Any harm which he the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • The capability of each parent and any other person the court considers relevant, of meeting the child’s needs
  • The range of powers available to the court

Who Can Ask For A Section 8 Order?

Parents, guardians and those with parental responsibility can automatically apply for an order. Mothers have parental responsibility for their children as of right as do married fathers. Unmarried fathers, stepfathers and others can acquire responsibility if they meet certain conditions.

In addition to those with parental responsibility, anyone holding a residence order or who has the consent of someone with a residence order as well a certain other categories of individual can make an application without first asking the court for permission.

Others can apply for orders under section 8 but they must first ask the court.

What Part Does Cafcass Play?

Cafcass is the body charged with ensuring the court listens to the voice of children and works within the boundaries of the Welfare Checklist. It will only become involved in your case if the court asks it to. Cafcass will carry out safeguarding checks in all cases and make representations to the court, including outlining any concerns. Depending on your particular case it may also work on a report into your child’s welfare, ask you to take part in a mediation assessment meeting or attend separate parenting classes.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

Henry listened carefully to my circumstances, offered practical solutions, and explained the steps I need to take in a way that was easy to understand. His approach was genuinely helpful and empathetic, making a challenging time much easier to navigate.

Jul 2024   Tracy Henin

They were quick to respond and organise a consultation regarding my divorce proceedings. Henry was very knowledable and personable and the advice given really gave me the clarity I needed in an uncertain situation.

Jul 2024   Rebecca Lowe

My initial free consultation with Natasha Slabas was just over an hour and very informative. Natasha helped me understand the situation and the next steps involved. I would definitely proceed with Brookman Solicitors in the future if required. They were very quick to book the initial consultation and very professional.

Jul 2024   Rajan Marwaha

Had an initial free talk with them. I was impressed with their honesty and understanding of the situation.

Jun 2024   Dianne Wilkins

I had a 30-minute consultation with Samantha Jago where she clearly explained all my options and followed up with a detailed email of notes. I would highly recommend if you need help to clarify where you stand and getting options for how you move forward.

Jun 2024   Katherine Davey

I recently had a one hour pro bono consultation with Samantha Jago. I was really blown away by how much she was able to digest in such a short period of time and even more so by the report which I received shortly after.

Apr 2024   S DF

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470