When you are embroiled in family proceedings, you will have most likely heard of a Section 8 Order or come across a C100 Form. Understanding the difference between the Orders or knowing how to complete the form can be daunting, especially when you read the words “Specific Issue Order, Prohibited Steps Order or a Child Arrangements Order.” However, once you understand which Order you require and any other forms that may need to be included with the application, as long as you take your time and have all the information you need, it is something you can do.  

What are the different types of order? 

All the below Orders are collectively known as Section 8 orders, under the Children Act 1989 and decisions made by the Court are made in the best interests of the child.  

If you have an issue that cannot be resolved, usually between parents, then a Specific Issue Order can be sought which requests the Court to make a decision. Good examples of this are where the child should live, attend school or medical decisions. 

However, if you require the other parent to stop doing something with the child, you will need a Prohibited Steps Order. The best example of this is when a parent does not want their child being taken abroad. 

Finally, a Child Arrangements Order asks the Court to make a decision as to who the child should live with and who they spend their time with.   

Who can apply for a Section 8 Order? 

Usually, any Orders sought under Section 8 are done so by the parents of the child, but can be any person with parental responsibility such as guardians or a person with a Child Arrangements Order for the child to live with them (previously known as a Residence Order). For a person who does not have automatic Parental Responsibility, such as an unmarried father (if he is not named on the birth certificate), step-parent, co-parent or grandparent, they would need to make a request to the Court for permission to apply for an Order.  

 Making an application to the Court 

The usual process to file an application would be to fill in a paper C100 form (or for your legal representative to do this on your behalf), post it to the Court where it would be checked and then processed, with the Court setting a date for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment. This can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks provided the form has been completed correctly

There are some circumstances where an urgent application can be made, but you would have to provide the Court with good reasons. 

However, there has been some good news this month. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Services (HMCTS) has now released the C100 Application Form online; promising to check, process and issue an application to the local Court within 24 hours. There is still the 4-6 weeks wait for a hearing date, however the ability to have the form checked by HMCTS for any errors or further information, within 24 hours, can save a lot of time in waiting for the form to be sent, processed, checked and returned by post if there are any errors. 

Any person involved in children proceedings will tell you how stressful it is waiting for Court dates and issues to be sorted. This simple change now allows for those involved to save precious days and even weeks,  reducing stress and worry, not just for them but most importantly the children involved.   

Anyone looking to apply for a Section 8 order can now fill in the C100 form online, but please be aware that you will usually need to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) before applying unless there is a good reason, such as domestic abuse or an urgent matter.   

 We understand that many will be looking to save money where they can, especially when it comes to filling in forms, however we would still recommend that you have a chat with your legal advisor before completing the form as they will be able to advise and focus on the relevant issues. Often, as the issue is personal to you, it is very easy to put too much information and stray away from the core issues. Your legal advisor will also be able to give you advice on the MIAM requirement prior to making an application. 

Contact us for an initial discussion with one of our Family Law specialists. We are pleased to offer initial fixed fee meetings with no obligation. We work with fixed fees wherever possible and we can also offer a low income support package in certain situations. 

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