blackboard full of mathematical diagrams and equations

Whether you are the applicant or find yourself as a respondent in private law Children Act proceedings, you are likely to come across a lot of complex language which you may not have heard before.  We have put together a list of common terms which are often used at the outset, and throughout, proceedings concerning children.



This is the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Within some private law proceedings, an officer of CAFCASS is appointed by the court to represent the children involved within the proceedings. In private law proceedings, the role of a CAFCASS officer can include reporting to court on issues concerning the child and also assisting parents to resolve disputes concerning arrangements for their children.


Child Arrangements Order

This is an Order made by the Court regulating with whom a child is to live, spend time with or have contact with. People often refer to Residence and Contact Orders, however Child Arrangements Orders replaced these in April 2014. 



This is a period of time spent by a child with a parent with whom it does not reside. Contact can be direct (face to face) for different amounts of time including overnight or indirect (by telephone, email, video or post). 



These are the instructions set out by the Court in an Order dealing with what the parties in a case, their lawyers and any experts should do before the next hearing.  The Order will usually set out dates by which directions should be complied with. 


Final Hearing

This will be the last hearing in your case. A Judge will often hear evidence and then reach a decision which they consider to be in the best interests of the child(ren). A final hearing will take place if the parties have been unable to reach an agreement between themselves. 


Prohibited Steps Order

This is an Order which will prohibit a person from taking a specific action (and therefore prohibiting them from exercising an aspect of parental responsibility for a child) such as changing a child’s name or removing a child from the country without obtaining permission from the Court. 


Section 8 Orders

These are the Orders contained within section 8 of the Children Act 1989. They are Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders. 


Specific Issue Order

This is an Order made to resolve a specific dispute relating to a child. Orders could be made in respect of relocation of a child, an issue relating to medical treatment or an aspect of education. 


At Stephens Scown we are very experienced in working with parents who are involved in private law proceedings.  Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this further.