Attending family courts

You may have to go to a family court to settle matters such as adopting a child, residence or contact with children after a divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership or separation. Below are some of the things that these courts deal with.

Adoption applications

Adoption is a legal act that vests the parental rights and duties of a child in the adopters.

Residence and Contact

Parents who separate, divorce or apply for civil partnership dissolution can often agree the arrangements for their children. However, if they are unable to reach agreement themselves they may:

  • ask a family mediator to help them settle their arrangements, as mediation may prove less costly and stressful than going to court
  • apply for a residence or contact order and ask a family court to decide visiting rights and where the child will live

For more information on mediation you can contact 'Family Mediation Northern Ireland' or contact 'Family Support NI' by following the links below:

There are also other mediation services available, these can be found on the internet or in the local telephone directory.

Children in care

If they feel it would be in the child’s best interest or is for the child’s safety, social services can ask the courts to issue:

  • Emergency Protection Orders
  • Care Orders
  • Supervision Orders
  • Secure Accommodation Orders

The Children Order Advisory Committee (COAC) has issued guidelines on the case management of public law cases (cases involving children in care) and this can be found under the publications section on the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service website

More useful links

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