Applications for child arrangements orders are usually between private individuals, under s8 Children Act 1989.

Certain categories of people are entitled to make an application for a child arrangements order under s8 without having to seek permission from the court first, and they are:

1. The parent, guardian or special guardian of a child;

2. Any person who has parental responsibility;

3. Anyone who holds a residence order in respect of the child;

4. Any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family;

5. Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years;

6. Anyone who has obtained the consent of:

a) a residence order;
b) the local authority if the child is in their care; or
c) everyone who has parental responsibility for the child.

Other people can make an application to the court for permission to issue an application for a child arrangements order. In deciding whether to give permission the court will take into account, amongst other things:

1. The nature of the application;
2. The applicant’s connection with the child;
3. The risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they should be harmed by it.

It is via this route that wider family members such as grandparents are able to apply for orders in respect of their grandchildren.

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