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Useful Terms

Demystify the words you might find in family law.


Acknowledgement of Service

A form that goes to the court to tell them that something has been sent to your ex-partner.


Taking another person's child into your own family and legally raise him or her as your own child.



A person who attends court to speak on someone's behalf when telling the court about your case.



Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services. Trained Social Workers who looks after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. It works with children and their families, and then advises the courts on what it considers to be in the children's best interests.

Child Abduction

Taking of a child from the care of the person with whom s/he normally lives

Child Protection Conference

A meeting involving different people (school, health visitor, nursery, social workers etc.)

Child Protection Plan

A plan to protect a child once the child has been found to be at continuing risk of significant harm.

Children’s Guardian

A person who acts for a child.

Contact Centre

A supervised venue that exists to support and promote contact. There is usually a charge to use this.

Contact Order

An Order that says the person who the child lives with must make the child available to the other person to see.



Directions Resolution Appointment. A hearing to think about the things that were asked for at the previous hearing.


Final Hearing

The last hearing in a case, the Order made at this hearing will be the last one made.


First Hearing Directions Resolution Appointment. The first hearing in a case that will look at what needs to happen in a case.



An appointment with someone who is trained to help you come to an agreement about something.


No order principle

The court must think about whether an order is needed at all.


Power of Arrest

A statement on an order that says if it is broken the police can arrest them.


Section 7 Report

A report to help the court when considering any question about a child ensuring the welfare of a child is thought about. This can be prepared by CAFCASS or a local authority

Section 8 Order

An Order about where a child lives, who they have contact with and whether someone can or cannot do something.

Significant Harm

When what is happening or what might happen to a child makes social care and the court worry. 




A promise to the court to do or not to do something.

Welfare Checklist

Where a court is considering whether to make a Section 8 Order or a Special Guardianship Order, it is directed to have regard to the following particular circumstances: 
(a) the ascertainable wishes and feeling of the child 
(b) his physical, emotional and educational needs 
(c) the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances 
(d) his age, sex, background and any other characteristics which the court considers relevant 
(e) any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering 
(f) how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs 
(g) the range of powers available to the court. 

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