Children and Parental Responsibility

The Children Act gives Parental Responsibility to both parents (where married or registered on the birth certificate). This is legal responsibility for their children which will not be lost upon Divorce. This means that both parents should continue to be involved in all aspects of their children’s welfare consulting upon issues such as health and education. Regrettably, there are times when parents cannot agree on these issues or generally upon the arrangements to be made for their children.

If you are involved in a disagreement about arrangements for your children, the family law team at Fraser Dawbarns can offer you help and advice. Contact us today to see how we can help you. 

Our Specialists

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Daniel Sims

Solicitor - Kings Lynn

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Emma Stearman

Senior Associate Solicitor - Kings Lynn

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Rebecca Woodley

Solicitor, Senior Associate - Downham Market

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Children and Section 8 Orders – Child Arrangements, Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders

Child Arrangements Orders

Child Arrangements Orders have replaced what used to be known as ‘residence’/’custody’ and ‘contact’/’access’ Orders, and set down the living arrangements for children where these cannot be agreed and Court proceedings have been initiated to try and resolve the dispute as a ‘last resort’.

Each family will have different circumstances in terms of the ages of the children, the parents’/carers’ work commitments etc., and so Child Arrangement Orders can take different forms – the children might have an equal shared care arrangement, living between two homes, or they might be based in one home, but go to their other home one night in the week and on alternate weekends.

If there are concerns about domestic abuse, or alcohol/drug misuse, these will need to be investigated before any long-term Orders can be made – the Court will need to be satisfied that the arrangements will be safe for the children and the parents or carers.

A lot of the time, Child Arrangements Order will be between the parents, but we have seen these Orders involve grandparents and even older brothers or sisters.

Specific Issue Order

If a child’s parents or carers cannot agree about a foreign holiday, a course of medical treatment, or which school to enrol in, an application can be made to the Court for a Specific Issue Order for the matter to be decided for them and the child – the Court will consider both sides of the argument and decide what it thinks will be in the child’s best interests.

Prohibited Steps Order

Where a parent or carer wishes to stop the other from doing something with their child – such as moving a very long way away – because they do not think it will be in the child’s best interests, they can make an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. The Court will consider all of the factors involved, before making a legally binding decision.

The Family Law Department at Fraser Dawbarns has considerable experience in dealing with all of these types of application, and can help to try and reduce the stress of Court proceedings with either full representation for Hearings, or through ‘advice in the background’, helping out when needed with paperwork. 

Why do some children cases go to court?

The Court Process will aim to resolve differences through Mediation, negotiation and if appropriate, the appointment of a Child and Family Court Advisor who will meet with the parents and the children. Sometimes parents cannot agree on where a child should be educated or whether, for example, they can go abroad on holiday with one of the parents. The Court can assist in determining these specific issues.

Occasionally parents threaten to remove their children, and in those circumstances, we can make an immediate and urgent application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. We encourage parents to resolve these types of disputes through negotiation, but if that fails we are here to fully support and represent you through the Court Process. If you would like further advise on this area of law, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Family Department to discuss how we might help.

Special Guardianship Orders

Sometimes parents are not able to provide their children with proper care, but placing the children with foster, or adoptive, families instead is considered too disruptive and disproportionate, and the family link still needs to be maintained, just with a different carer put in place for the children.

In these circumstances, a close relative can be appointed by the Court as the child’s Special Guardian. The children will still be legally linked to their parents and can still have regular contact with them, but the Guardian will be providing the day to day care, and long-term stability.

With adoption, the birth parents lose the legal link to the children and are not be able to make decisions for them, but with Special Guardianship Orders, the parents remain informed and involved – and can only be ‘trumped’ where necessary to meet the children’s best interests.

Many different circumstances could lead to a Special Guardianship Order being made but whatever the reasons, this will be an emotional and difficult time for the child in question and the wider family. The Family Law department at Fraser Dawbarns have experience in making applications for these Orders on behalf of relatives, working with Local Authorities, and also in advising relatives if this Order is being considered as part of other, ongoing Court proceedings, and will guide you through the process, keeping the emotional toll on all parties concerned a minimum.


I have received first class service throughout my house moving process. Annie has kept me informed of progress every step of the way. She always acted in a professional manner, always giving up her time to answer questions and allay fears.
Client - Wisbech Office

Why Choose Fraser Dawbarns to Help You?

Pricing Options

In more complex cases that are beyond the scope of the fixed fee service, we offer a choice of pricing options to our clients. By offering the choice between undertaking work on either a fixed fee basis or at an hourly rate, we give you the freedom to select the pricing option that best suits your needs.

Giving you Total peace of Mind

We offer our clients the expert and comprehensive legal advice that they are entitled to expect. We also provide our clients with support, a sympathetic ear and peace of mind during what is a very difficult and emotional time. 

Contact Us Today

Our team will help you from the beginning of your case to the end, giving you total peace of mind. If you would like friendly, client focused advice on a wide range of legal issues, get in touch and see how we can help you.

Call or email us today and find out how we can make your life easier. 

Wisbech: 01945 461456
March: 01354 602880
King's Lynn: 01553 666600
Ely: 01353 383483
Downham Market: 01366 383171
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