What is a Family Court Order and can it protect my family?
A Family Court Order is designed to protect your family by ensuring your children’s welfare is the priority at all times. They can also help ensure that other family members cannot intimidate, harass, or use violence against you. Family Court Orders are legally binding and cover a range of situations that may arise in family life and which ex-partners cannot reach mutual agreement on. The Family Court has the power to protect your family, covering a wide range of matters, from minor to severe issues.
There are several different types of Family Court Orders, which cover a range of scenarios. A Family Court Order, for example, will lay out where or how your children should live, provide for child maintenance payments if any, and when and how often you or your ex-partner can have contact with your children.
If you have parental responsibility for a child and you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner on things that affect your child’s welfare, then you can apply for a Family Court Order. If you are getting a divorce or are already divorced, and need help with a Family Court Order, then keep on reading. Graysons’ team of family lawyers in Sheffield and Chesterfield answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Family Court Orders.
What are the different types of Family Court Orders in England and Wales?
There are several types of Family Court Orders that cover various scenarios. Depending on your family circumstances and needs, you can apply for more than one Family Court Order at a time. Different types of Family Court Orders include:
- Maintenance Order – this Family Court Order will require that one spouse pays maintenance to their ex-spouse following a divorce or dissolution. A Maintenance Order is usually put in place as part of a financial agreement and is aimed at helping the spouse who is left in a financially weaker position following a divorce. Note that Maintenance Orders are different to Child Maintenance Orders.
- Child Maintenance Order – this Family Court Order outlines how you and your ex-spouse will cover your child, or children’s, living expenses. A Child Maintenance Order will usually state how much should be paid by the non-resident parent, to the parent who the child lives with (known as the resident parent). The payments are designed to cover the child, or children’s, day-to-day living expenses, including clothes, food, and housing.
- Pension Sharing Order – this Family Court Order specifies how a pension fund should be split following a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. A Pension Sharing Order is usually required when one partner has built up a far larger pension than the other, for example, when one partner has worked and the other has instead stayed at home to look after children. A Family Court judge will take into consideration a range of factors including the potential earning power of each party and their current financial situation, to ensure that both partners are given a fair share.
- Specific Issue Order – this Family Court Order sets out specific provisions for a child’s upbringing including what school they should attend, if a child should have any religious education, whether they can be taken outside of the country, what medical treatment a child should receive, and whether a child’s surname can be changed. This Family Court Order is usually used when ex-spouses are unable to come to an agreement on matters concerning a child’s upbringing.
- Prohibited Steps Order – this Family Court Order prevents a parent from carrying out certain actions, thereby limiting the exercise of their powers of Parental Responsibility. This may include preventing a parent from permanently changing their child’s surname, taking them out of the country or a particular area, relocating to another country or area with their child, or preventing the child from receiving specific medical treatment.
- Child Arrangements Order – this Family Court Order sets out living arrangements for children including who they should live with, how much time they will spend with each parent, and whether time with a parent should be supervised. Child Arrangement Orders are usually used when parents cannot decide who a child, or children, should live with.
- Non-Molestation Order – this Family Court Order is designed to prevent an ex-partner from harassing you. It is usually put in place when an ex-partner has shown a consistent pattern of using violence or threatening behaviour to get their way. A Non-Molestation Order can also prevent an ex-partner from coming within a certain distance of you or your home if you are not living together.
- Occupation Order – this Family Court Order is used to prevent your ex-partner from living in the same property as you, even if the property is jointly owned or tenanted. An Occupation Order is usually put in place by a Family Court if your ex-partner poses a serious threat to your welfare.
- Parental Responsibility Order – this Family Court Order confirms who is allowed to make decisions on the upbringing of a child. Parental Responsibility covers such things as consenting to a child’s medical treatment, appointing a guardian in the event of the death of a parent, determining where the child goes to school, and giving consent to allow a child to leave the country, such as going on holiday.
An experienced family solicitor, such as Graysons’ team of family lawyers in Sheffield and Chesterfield, will be able to help you get the right Family Court Order for your needs to help protect you and your family.
Who can apply for a Family Court Order?
Anyone can apply for a Family Court Order. Before applying, you will generally need to evidence that you have tried mediation, although this isn’t always necessary, for example in cases where there is domestic abuse. A family lawyer can help with mediation and, should this fail, apply for a Family Court Order. If the issues can be resolved through the process of mediation, a family lawyer will be able to draft a Consent Order for the courts to approve.
How long does it take for a Family Court Order to be granted?
As every situation is unique, there is no set time frame which will determine how long it will take for a Family Court Order to be granted. In most cases, a Family Court Order will take around 6 to 12 months. Working with an experienced family solicitor, such as Graysons’ team of family lawyers in Sheffield and Chesterfield can help ensure the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible.
What if I need an emergency Family Court Order granted?
If there are concerns that a child is in imminent danger, such as child abuse, then the courts can put in place an Emergency Protection Order. If you need help arranging a Family Court Order, such as an Emergency Protection Order, then contact a family lawyer at Graysons.
How can a family lawyer, such as Graysons’ team of Sheffield & Chesterfield solicitors, help me get a Family Court Order?
Graysons’ team of family lawyers in Sheffield & Chesterfield have decades of experience in family law. Our team can help advise you on your legal rights and help you obtain a Family Court Order that protects you and your family, while ensuring you the very best outcome. If you need help with a Family Court Order, then contact our family law team today.