Orders regarding children

This section is for orders regarding children born while their parents were married.

Along with your divorce order and any application for financial provision, there may also be the matter of any children of the marriage for which arrangements must be made.

It is always best if you can come to an amicable agreement with the other parent regarding any children. This can save time and money, as well as causing the least amount of distress to the child(ren).

However there are times when you may need the court to make an order over any issues or disagreements you may have over the children.

These are the orders than can be applied for:

  • Contact Order: These are orders that require the person with whom a child lives to allow that child to visit, stay or have contact with a person named in the order. For example if your child lives with your former partner and you wish to see your child at weekends then you might apply for a contact order, if you cannot agree this between yourselves.

  • Residence Order: These orders decide where and with whom the child is to live. For example if you and your partner have separated and you want your child to live with you, but you cannot agree this, then you might apply for a residence order.

  • Specific Issue Order: These orders give instructions about a specific issue that has arisen about an action normally undertaken by a parent. For example if you and your former partner cannot agree on whether your child should have a major operation, then you might apply for a specific issue order. The court can also make orders such as “Care Orders” or “Emergency Protection Orders” where the children are being abused or at risk of harm.

  • Prohibited Steps Order:  These orders mean a person must have the court’s permission before undertaking actions specified in the order that would normally be undertaken by a parent. For example to require a parent to seek the court’s permission before removing the child from the jurisdiction.

  • Appointment of a Guardian:  An order appointing a person who will take over parental responsibility for the child. E.g. after the death of a parent.

Application for an Order (Form C1) Word / PDF

Applications for orders regarding children can become lengthy and complex. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice before starting an application if you intend to do so without an advocate.

Before you complete any form, you should read it through carefully and you should always state clearly what you are applying for.

Please note that the court staff cannot help you to decide what to put on the forms, or give you any advice about your case. The court always recommend if you are unsure of the relevant Acts or Rules which relate to applications, or have queries regarding the contents of applications you should seek legal advice and/or contact a Manx advocate.

The names of Manx advocates who are Family Law practitioners may be obtained from the Isle of Man Law Society.

The courts consider that these guidelines apply to all children and all parents.

Please don’t think that your case is an exception. 

Are you a parent thinking of asking for a court order?

The court wants you to think about these things first:

  • As parents, you share responsibility for your children and have a duty to talk to each other and make every effort to agree about how you will bring them up

  • Even when you separate this duty continues.

  • Try to agree the arrangements for your child. If talking to each other is difficult, ask for help. Trained mediators can help you to talk to each other and find solutions, even when things are hard. The court staff can give you details.

  • If you cannot agree you can ask the court to decide for you. The law says that the court must always put the welfare of your child first. What you want may not be the best thing for your child. The court has to put your child first, however hard that is for the adults.

  • Experience suggests that court-imposed orders work less well than agreements made between you as parents.

The court therefore expects you to do what is best for your child:

  • Encourage your child to have a good relationship with both of you.

  • Try to have a good enough relationship with each other as parents, even though you are no longer together as a couple.

  • Arrange for your child to spend time with each of you.

Remember, the court expects you to do what is best for your child even when you find that difficult:

  • It is the law that a child has a right to regular personal contact with both parents unless there is a very good reason to the contrary. Denial of contact is very unusual and in most cases contact will be frequent and substantial.

  • The court may deny contact if it satisfied that your or your child’s safety is at risk.

  • Supervised contact at a contact centre should be reserved for those cases where it is really needed to safeguard the welfare of the child. Every effort should be made to agree unsupervised contact, or if needed, contact supervised by mutual friends, relatives or godparents.

  • Sometimes a parent stops contact because she/he feels that she/he is not getting enough money from the other parent to look after the child. This is not a reason to stop contact.

Your child needs to:

  • Understand what is happening to their family. It is your job to explain.

  • Have a loving, open relationship with both parents. It is your job to encourage this. You may be separating from each other, but your child needs to know that he/she is not being separated from either of you.

  • Show love, affection and respect for both parents.

Your child should not be made to:

  • Blame him/herself for the break up.

  • Hear you running down the other parent (or anyone else involved).

  • Turn against the other parent because they think that is what you want.

You can help your child:

  • Think about how he or she feels about the break up.

  • Listen to what your child has to say.

  • About how he/she is feeling.

  • About what he/she thinks of any arrangements that have to be made.

  • Try to agree arrangements for your child (including contact) with the other parent.

  • Talk to the other parent openly, honestly and respectfully.

  • Explain your point of view to the other parent so that you don’t misunderstand each other.

  • Draw up a plan as to how you will share responsibility for your child.

  • When you have different ideas from the other parent, do not talk about it when the children are with you.

If you want to change agreed arrangements (such as where your child lives or goes to school):

  • Make sure the other parent agrees.

  • If you cannot agree, go to mediation. General information about mediation can be found at www.mediation-network.im

  • If you still cannot agree, a table of Family Mediators is available

If there is a court order in place:

  • You must do what the order says, even if you don’t agree with it. If you want to do something different you have to apply to the court to have the court order varied or discharged.

This content has been adapted from that issued by the Midland Region Family Judges and Magistrates and is considered to set out basic guidelines which apply in most cases.

There are some people who have the automatic right to apply to the court for an order; however there are some people who must first seek the court’s permission to apply for an order.

The following people have the right to apply to the court for any order under section 11 of the Children & Young Persons Act 2001:

  • any parent or legal guardian of the child

  • any person who has a residence order in their favour regarding the child.

The following people have the right to apply to the court for a Residence or Contact Order under section 11 of the Children & Young Persons Act 2001:

  • any party to a marriage in relation to whom the child is a child of the family

  • any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least 3 years (does not need to be continuous, but in the last 5 years and within the last 3 months before the application)

  • any person who has the consent of any person who has a residence order in their favour

  • any person who has the consent of the Department of Health and Social Security, if the child is in care

  • any person who has the consent of each person (if any) who has parental responsibility for the child.

Other applicants

If you do not fall into one of the above categories, you may still be able to apply for an order; however you must seek the court’s permission first.

When applying for permission, the court will take the following into account:

  • the nature of the proposed application

  • the applicant’s connection with the child

  • any risk of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they would be harmed by it

  • if the applicant is a foster parent, the Department’s plans for the child’s future and the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents.

Can the child apply for an order?

The child concerned may be able to make an application for an order, however only with the courts permission. The court will only grant this permission if it is satisfied that the child has sufficient understanding to make the proposed application. The court may also appoint a Guardian ad Litem (an individual appointed to represent the best interests of the child for the purpose of the legal procedure).

Before you make an application you should read: 

What the court expects from parents


Who can apply for an Order?

to make sure that you are allowed to make the Application. In some cases you may have to apply to the court for permission to make an Application.

Family Mediation

Before you begin proceedings you may want to consider mediation.
In mediation, an impartial, trained mediator, not connected with your case, helps you and your partner to resolve your disputes.
A Register of accredited Family Mediators is available.


This section is for anyone who thinks that a court should make a decision about a child such as where the child will live and who the child will see.

A court will only make an Order if it thinks it is in the best interests of the child. Sometimes a court may decide that it would be best not to make any Order

Which form should I use?

Please see the Court Orders regarding children page for a list of orders and the form which you need to use for each one. These forms can be found on the above page, or by calling into the public counter at the courthouse.

Who is the respondent?

The following must be named as respondents to any application:

  • every person whom the applicant believes to have parental responsibility for the child

  • the Department of Health and Social Security, where the child is in care

  • where application is to extend, vary or revoke an order, the parties to the proceedings leading to the original order.

Making an Application

Any person wishing to make an application for an order using a C1 form must:

  • file and serve one C1 application per child in the appropriate form, making sure you have submitted enough copies for one to be served on each respondent party

  • when the court has received the documents, the Chief Registrar will fix a time and date for a directions appointment and endorse the date on the documents before returning them to the applicant

  • the applicant must serve a copy of the application (endorsed by the Chief Registrar) on each respondent at least 14 days before the date fixed for the directions appointment.

Will I need an advocate?

Although it is not necessary to have an advocate, the court strongly recommends that you seek legal advice before making any application for an order regarding a child.

Be aware that courts staff cannot give you any advice about what to put in your application.

How much does it cost?

You should ask a member of the courts staff how much the application will cost. You can also view the current fee online in the fees section.

Serving the application on the respondent(s)

Where a document is required to be served, it may be served:

  • if the person to be served does not have an advocate:

    • by delivering it personally to them; or

    • by sending it by post to their residence or their last known residence.

  • if the person to be served is acting through an advocate:

    • by delivering or posting the document to the advocates address for service; or

    • by sending a legible fax to the advocate’s office.

Does anyone else need to be informed that I am making an application?

The following people must be given written notice of the proceedings as well as the date and place for the appointment or hearing:

  • Department of Health and Social Security or any voluntary body, where it is providing accommodation for the child

  • any person who is caring for the child at the time when the proceedings began

  • in the case of a guardianship appointment the father of the child if he does not have parental responsibility

  • in the case of an application under s.11, every person whom the applicant believes

    • to be named in a court order with respect to the child which has not ceased to have effect (unless the applicant feels that this court Order is not relevant to their application)

    • to be a party to pending proceedings in respect of the child

    • be a person with whom the child has lived with for at least 3 years before the application

Can an application be made without informing the respondent(s)?

An application for a prohibited steps or specific question order may be made without notice. Whether or not the court will hear any matter without service is up to the judge.

In this case the applicant must:

  • file one application per child using the appropriate form; and

  • serve a copy of the application on each respondent immediately after the order has been made.

Answer to application

Within 14 days of service of an application for an Order, each respondent must file and serve on all the parties their Answer to the Application.

In court, “parties” include the court welfare officer where the directions concern a report which has been requested from them.

Directions appointments

In proceedings the court may give, vary or revoke directions for the conduct of the proceedings for:

  • the timetable for proceedings (e.g. dates of future appointments/hearings)
  • varying the time period by which an act is required to be carried out
  • the attendance of the child
  • the service of documents
  • the submission of evidence including experts reports
  • the preparation of any welfare reports requested
  • consolidation with other proceedings.

These directions may be given, varied or revoked either:

  • by the court’s own initiative, having given all parties notice of its intention to do so and an opportunity to attend or make written representations in answer
  • on the written request of any party specifying the direction which is sought, filed and served on the other parties giving them an opportunity to attend or make written representations in answer
  • on the written request of a party specifying the direction which is sought, and to which the other parties consent and which they, or their representatives, have signed.

In an urgent case, a request may, with the permission of the court, be made:

  • orally
  • without notice to the other parties
  • both orally and without notice to the other parties

Do the parties have to attend all the directions appointments?

The parties must attend a directions appointment when given notice unless:

  • the court considers it in the interests of the child, having regard to the matters being discussed
  • the party is represented by an advocate.

The child may be permitted to attend to make representations if the court considers that he has sufficient understanding of the situation.

The court will not begin to hear an application in the absence of the respondent(s) unless:

  • it is proved to the court’s satisfaction that he received reasonable notice of the date of the hearing
  • the court is satisfied that the circumstances of the case justify proceeding with the hearing.

Documentation for directions appointments.

A party must file and serve on all parties and the court welfare officer any:

  • written statements of evidence intended for use, which must be signed and dated, and must contain a declaration that the maker believes everything in it to be true and that they understand that it may be put before the court
  • copies of any documents (including expert reports) upon which the party intends to rely at a hearing or directions appointment.

Unless you get the court’s permission, you cannot use any document or evidence that you have not first served and filed on all parties to the proceedings.

The hearing

Unless the court directs otherwise, the parties must give evidence in the following order:

  • the applicant
  • any party with parental responsibility
  • the respondent(s)
  • the child, if he is party to the proceedings.

After the final hearing, the court will deliver its Judgment as soon as is practical. When making or refusing an order, the court will state any findings of fact and the reasons for its decision.

For prohibited steps and specific issue orders made without the respondent, the applicant must serve a copy of the application, their sworn affidavit and a copy of the order on:-

  • each party
  • any person who has actually care of the child or who had such care immediately before the making of the order.
Page last updated on 23 August 2018