changes to family assistance orders

from oct 1 amendments to s16 of Children Act 1989 (re: Family Assistance Orders) come into force, and the court will be able to make a family assistance order for up to 12 months duration, and the old requirement that there must be exceptional circumstances for such an order to be made is repealed. This is good – these orders were rarely ever made, and if they were they were often of little use as by the time the local authority got off their bottoms the order had expired. I imagine the restricted powers were intended to ensure that local authorities and CAFCASS were not overburdened – but given that the requirement for all parties named to consent to the order remains, I don’t foresee any problems. They can always say no. And no doubt will have no qualms about doing so if they don’t fancy the work.

Also on 1 October (amongst other things) a new s6A Children Act 1989 will be in force providing a requirement for CAFCASS reporters to conduct a risk assessment for submission to the court where they think a child may be at risk of harm.

2 thoughts on “changes to family assistance orders

  1. How can one find out where all the amendments to the Children Act 1989 are? Scanning through the section about acquiring Parental Responsibility there is nothing said about unmarried fathers now acquiring PR if they sign the birth certificate (jointly) with the mother. Where, when and how was this amendment made, and how can I find others like it?

  2. s4(1) Children Act 1989 (as amended by s111 Adoption and Children Act 2002) says:
    where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth, the father shall acquire parental responsibility for the child if – (a) he becomes registered as the child’s father under any of the enactments specified in subsection 1A…
    (subsection 1A sets out the details of the Births and Deaths Registrations Act etc).

    In English that means that if you are named on the birth certificate you have PR, but it only applies to children born after 1 Dec 2003.

    You’re probably looking at an unamended version of the act. Unfortunately most statutory material on the web is in unamended form which is very confusing and means you have to do a lot of work to find out which act amended it and then cross check. You’ll find the relevant wording in s111 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

    The Children Act 1989 has been amended in other places too and there are various amendments which have been made but not yet brought into force.

    I’ve just discovered the Ministry of Justice’s UK Statute Law Database (see which has some amendments, but even these are not completely current. I’ve not used this site before (its very new I think) so I don’t know how complete it is, but I’ve had a quick look for you – it does tell you how up to date it is or is not, the children act is up to about 2003 and appears to contain the amended s4. This might be all you need.

    However, more generally if you want to be sure you have fully up to date versions of a piece of law you will probably need to go to a library and check Halsbury’s Statutes or some other legal text book as I think most online services are by paid subscription. You’ll probably only find this in a law library (or university law library). You can use this and other books to see what amendments have been made to a piece of law and when.

    Some one man band websites have out of date versions of the law on them – so be careful you have really got the current law in front of you.

    Additionally, if you are just looking for details of the Children Act there are a few relatively reasonably priced textbooks which set out the full up to date statute (there is a Children Act Handbook, the authors of which I can’t remember off the top of my head but which I expect costs about £40). You can probably get it on Amazon or from a legal bookshop (try Hammicks – you can order online).

    Hope this helps.

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