Family Justice System

The Family Justice System

The Family Justice System helps parents and carers resolve disputes about children.  It oversees arrangements for children on divorce or where a civil partnership is formally ended. It encourages parents to reach agreements.

If they cannot, the courts can make Parental Responsibility Orders and Section 8 orders to determine where children live, who they see and who can make decisions about them.

  • Help with agreeing arrangements
  • Arrangements for children on divorce
  • Parental responsibility orders and agreements
  • Section 8 orders

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Help with agreeing arrangements

Help is available from mediators and there are many organisations which provide advice through leaflets or over the telephone. There are also booklets, called Parenting Plans, which are designed to help parents think about and discuss important issues concerning caring for their children after they have separated. You can get copies of the parenting plans here or by writing (FREEPOST) to Box 2001, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, RH1 8BR.

Arrangements for children on divorce

When the Court is considering granting a divorce, nullity, judicial separation or dissolution of civil partnership, it must consider the arrangements for the care and financial support of the “children of the family” and be satisfied with them.  If the parties cannot agree or the arrangements are not suitable, the court can ask for reports from the local authority or CAFCASS and make orders about the children’s care. The court may make Section 8 orders even where there has been no application if this is in the child’s best interests.

The term “children of the family” means children of both a husband and wife or any other child who has been treated by a married couple or civil partners as a child of their family, except children who have been fostered with them by a local authority or voluntary organisation. Children need not live with the couple all the time and can be members of more than one family, for example where both their parents have remarried children are likely to be members of both families.


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