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Family Assistance Orders

What is a Family Assistance Order?

A Court can make a Family Assistance Order (FAO) as a means of providing social work support to families experiencing difficulties after separation or divorce. The Court conveys a duty on a CAFCASS Officer or Social Worker to befriend, advise and assist anyone named in the order. This is often in relation to facilitating and monitoring contact.

Who can be named in the order?

The order can include the parents or guardian of the children, the children themselves, and anyone with whom the children live or who are named in a Contact Order allowing contact with the children.

Can I apply for a Family Assistance Order?

No. This type of order is only made when a Judge considers it to be appropriate, rather than when a parent makes a formal application.

It may be possible during the course of an application for another form of order, such as a Contact or Contact Enforcement order, to ask the Court to consider making a Family Assistance Order.

When is a Family Assistance Order made?

Family Assistance Orders will normally only be made when all the people named in the order are in agreement with it being made.

How long does a Family Assistance Order last?

For up to 12 months, or shorter if a time period is specified in the order.

What can CAFCASS do under an FAO?

They may refer matters back to the Court and request a variation to any Child Arrangements, Prohibited Steps Specific Issue Order or historic Contact or Residence order that is in force in respect of the children named in the Family Assistance Order. The decision as to whether to vary the order remains with the judge. Neither CAFCASS (nor Social Services) can vary or suspend a court order themselves (sometimes they need reminding of this!).

Also refer to CAFCASS's Family Assistance Order Guidance:


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Michael Robinson © 2014

Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales

Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.

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