Children’s Act 1989

Children Act 1989

The Children Act 1989 was brought in to try and protect children more effectively.

If you or your partner cannot decide what is best for your children then the court will make the decision for you. The court’s only concern is what is best for the children.


Children Act Orders

Section 8 of the Children Act 1989,
8. Residence, contact and other orders with respect to children.


a contact order” means an order requiring the person with whom a child lives, or is to live, to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order, or for that person and the child otherwise to have contact with each other.

(If the children are living with your partner and you would like to visit them or have them stay with you for short periods, such as weekends and part of the holidays, you can apply for a “Contact Order”. A contact order can also decide who should collect and deliver the children for contact visits, where the contact visit should take place and at what time.)


a prohibited steps order” means an order that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his parental responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court.

(You can apply to the court if you think your partner is likely to try and take your children from you. This is called a “Prohibited Steps Order”. This Order will also help you if your partner is thinking of taking the children to live abroad.

If your partner has taken the children out of the country then you may be able to get the children back with the help of the court, but this depends on which country the children have been taken to.

Below is a list of countries with whom we have an agreement so that if children are taken to these countries unlawfully the authorities in that country can help to bring the children back.

Or, if you have a Residence Order and the children are taken to one of these countries, the authorities in that country should help to make sure the children are returned to you.


  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belize
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada (most states)
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus (Southern)
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • St.Kitts & Nevis
  • United States
  • Yugoslavia
  • Zimbabwe


a residence order” means an order settling the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom a child is to live.

(You can apply to the court for them to decide where the children should live. This is called a “Residence Order”.

It is possible to apply for a “Joint Residence Order”, but the courts do not usually like to make such orders especially if it will mean the child will have to divide their time between two homes.

Your solicitor can advise you if a Joint Residence Order is appropriate.

If you have a Residence Order you are allowed to take the children out of the country for less than 1 month at a time without your partner’s consent.

Taking children abroad permanently !!

If you want to take the children to live abroad permanently then your partner may have to consent to this or you will have to get permission from the court


a specific issue order” means an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

(If you and your partner cannot decide about other issues to do with the children, for example, what school they should go to, whether to change their surname, whether they should have a major operation etc., you can apply to the court and let them decide. This is called a “Specific Issue Order”.

Or, if the children have been removed from your care you may need a Specific Issue Order telling your partner that they must be returned to you.)


Forms and guidance

C100 Application under the Children Act 1989 for a residence, contact, prohibited steps, specific issue section 8 order or to vary or discharge a section 8 order.
C100 Checklist Information for practitioners completing form C100
CB1 Making an application. Children and the family courts
CB3 Serving the forms

Permanent link to this article: