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(i)his having regular contact with those who have parental responsibility for him and with other members of his family; and

(ii)the maintenance of as good a continuing relationship with his parents as is possible.”384

3.88The court cannot make the divorce order unless it is satisfied about the parties’ financial arrangements for the future, including the children.  Schedule 1 provides for an exemption from this requirement (except for satisfying the court under section 11 about the children), where agreement has not been reached because of the ill health, disability or injury of one of the parties or the child and delay would be “significantly detrimental to the welfare of any child of the family” or “seriously prejudicial to the applicant”.

Types of orders

3.89Under the 1989 Act, the court may make orders in any family proceedings in which a question arises with respect to the welfare of any child.385Section 8 of the 1989 Act provides for four types of orders:

(1) a residence order means an order settling the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom a child is to live,

(2) a contact order, which is similar to an access order, allows the child to visit or stay with the other person,

(3) a specific issue order means an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen, or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child, and

(4)a prohibited steps order means that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his parental responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court.

3.90The previous system of orders was criticised as being more concerned with whether one parent could control what the other parent did while the child was with the other, than with ensuring that each parent properly met his responsibilities while the child was with him.386  Instead of concentrating on the allocation of abstract rights, section 8 orders are aimed at settling practical questions.  The courts no longer have to deal with issues such as who should have legal custody or actual custody.  This is in line with the philosophy of the Act that the law should interfere as little as possible where the parents are already able to co-operate in bringing up their children. 387

384 Section 11(4)(c).

385 Section 10(1).

386 Law Com No 172, paragraph 4.8.

387 Law Com No 172, paragraph 4.5.

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