A court order records an official judgment or way forward, as agreed by a Judge. A court order can be final (at the end of a hearing) or interim (which is in place until a final order can be made). What is in the order depends on the case presented to the judge and what evidence is necessary for just determination of the particular case.
How long does a court order take to process?
The time that it takes to secure a final court order depends entirely on the case. It also depends on how many assessments are required in the case and what evidence is needed to enable the Judge to make a final decision.
In family law, some orders can be made very quickly where there is considered to be an imminent risk of harm, for example, an emergency non-molestation order or an emergency child protection order, whilst others, for example child arrangement orders can sometimes take between 6 to 12 months for a final order to be made.
What is considered an unsafe environment for a child?
Any living situation that is failing to meet a child’s basic needs is one that may be considered to be unsafe.
There are 4 main types of neglect that will be considered if there is an application to the court concerning the safety and wellbeing of any children:
1. Physical: Where basic needs like food, clothing and shelter are not met
2. Education: Where a child is not given an education
3. Emotional: Where a child doesn’t get the stimulation and care they need
4. Medical: Where a child is not given access to proper health and medical care
What are the different types of court orders to protect children from an unsafe environment?
The different types of court orders that can be granted to protect children that have been living in an unsafe environment can include:
● Non Molestation Orders: An order to prevent a partner or ex-partner from being violent, or threatening violence, against someone and their child. This is an order that will usually last between 6 and 12 months. There are occasions when it can be made for longer and/or applications for extensions to the length of the order can be made.
● Occupation orders: An order where the court decides who is able to live in the home and prevent another person from some / part of the home. This can be in place for around 3- 6 months. It is anticipated the parties will not require this order for a long time as other living arrangements will be in place following the initial order being made.
● Prohibited steps orders: An order that prevents someone with parental responsibility from being able to carry out some of their responsibilities. This can include preventing someone from taking a child out of school, changing a child’s name or taking a child out of the country.
● Child arrangement orders: An order that regulates the time each parent (or carer or other person with parental responsibility) can spend time with a child. This type of order will last until the child turns 16.
● Emergency protection order: An order that is used in very serious circumstances to protect a child that is considered to be in imminent danger of suffering significant harm. This order is for use in the short term so can only be granted for a maximum of 8 days.
● Care Order: An interim care order will often follow an emergency protection order but more often it is applied for in its own right. The local authority (social services) have to apply to the court to satisfy the judge as to the necessity of the order. If this order is made the local authority will share parental responsibility with the parents and there will be a care plan approved by the Judge as to the arrangements for any child/ren of the family. To reach a final decision the proceedings can take around 26 weeks, sometimes longer (with the agreement of the presiding Judge).
● Supervision order: An interim supervision order is an order that the local authority (social services) also has to satisfy the court that there is a need for such an order. There will be a care plan in place confirming the arrangements for the child/ren of the family. As with care proceedings, to reach a final decision the proceedings can take around 26 weeks, sometimes longer (if sanctioned by the family court judge).
Speak to our specialist team as to other orders available – the above is not an exhaustive list.
National Legal Service’s team of friendly, experienced local solicitors can help you throughout the court order process. Contact us to discuss your situation in confidence.