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Dictionary of Private Children Law (2022) thumbnail image

The Dictionary of Private Children Law is a unique reference guide to the key concepts, cases, and practice of private children law. Its A4 format and targeted concise content makes it a unique model of accessibility and portability.

Presented in an easy to use A-Z format, with cross references where required, each entry acts like a practice note on the topic setting out the essential law, key cases, and practice points. The book distils the combined experience of the editors with the aim of providing a concise practical handbook focusing on the most important issues and practice points likely to be encountered by anybody involved in a private children law case. The intention is to achieve this aim for judges and practitioners working in the field, but also to provide a book sufficiently accessible for litigants acting without lawyers.

What's new for 2022?

This 2022 edition is fully updated to include changes and developments in the law from the last twelve months.

  • New entries include: Port Alerts and Tipstaff Orders (Passport, Location and Collection Orders), Step-parent adoption, and Security for Costs.

Who will find the book useful?

  • Every family law solicitor, barrister or legal executive advising clients on disputes about children after divorce or separation
  • Family Court Judges
  • Mediators, Arbitrators, and other professionals involved in out of court dispute resolution
  • McKenzie Friends and litigants in person

Paperback | ISBN: 9781859599945 | Published February 2022

Digital | ISBN: 9781859599952 | Published February 2022

Page count: 115

“I am delighted to have been asked to write a short Foreword to the first edition of this excellent new work … its style and format make it an invaluable tool for anyone needing a pithy summary of the relevant law. The number of entries illustrates the astonishingly wide range of issues that arise in private children law. On behalf of the readers of this work, I have road tested the dictionary by reference to a random list of topics and have found it to be succinct, clear and informative ... I congratulate Judge Hess and his colleagues on this invaluable addition to the family law library.”

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Baker

Dictionary of Private Children Law 2022

Foreword to the second edition

Introduction to the 2022 edition

Abduction Outside the UK

Abduction Within the UK

Activity Directions and Conditions

Allocation, Gatekeeping and Transfer of Proceedings

Appeals and Setting Aside Orders

Applicants and Applications



Cafcass Monitoring

Capability of Parents

Change of Living Arrangements

Child Arrangements Orders (General)

Child Arrangements Orders (‘Live With’ Provision)

Child Arrangements Orders (‘Spend Time With’/‘Have Contact With’ Provision)

Child Arrangements Programme (CAP)

Child Giving Evidence

Child’s Age, Sex, Background and Other Relevant Characteristics

Child’s Needs

Children’s Guardian and the Child as a Party

Civil Restraint Orders

Coercive and Controlling Behaviour

Compensation Orders

Consent Orders

Contact: General Principles


Death of Children



Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA)

DNA Testing and Parentage

Domestic Abuse


Effect of Change (Status Quo)

Enforcement and Enforcement Orders

Expert Evidence

Fact-Finding Hearings

Family Assistance Orders

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA)

Forced Marriage


Habitual Residence

Hague Convention 1996

Harm and Risk of Harm

Independent Social Workers

Interim Orders and Interim Hearings

Intractable Contact Disputes

Judges Meeting Children

Judicial Bias and Recusal


Legal Aid


McKenzie Friends

Media Attendance and Reporting

Mediation and ADR

Medical Examination and Treatment

Mental Capacity


Names of Children

No Order Principle

Non-Parental Contact


Overriding Objective

Parental Alienation

Parental Involvement Presumption

Parental Responsibility: Acquisition and Loss

Parental Responsibility: Definition and Scope

Parental Status and Legitimacy


Port Alerts and Tipstaff Orders (Passport, Location and Collection Orders)

Prohibited Steps Orders

Publicity and Confidentiality

Recognition and Enforcement of Orders


Relocation Outside the UK: Holidays

Relocation Outside the UK: Permanent Moves

Relocation Within the UK


Risk Assessment


Section 37 Direction

Section 91(14) Orders

Security for Costs

Special Guardianship Orders

Specific Issue Orders

Step-Parent Adoption

Supervised and Supported Contact


Terrorism and Radicalisation


Wardship and the Inherent Jurisdiction

Warning Notices and Penal Notices

Welfare Checklist

Welfare Reports

Welfare: Paramountcy Principle

Wishes and Feelings of the Child

Withdrawal of Applications

Without Notice Applications

As we move inexorably from a Victorian paper-based legal system to a digitised process more in keeping with the rest of 21st-century life, the days of wheeling trolleys of law books to court are swiftly disappearing. The recent proud boast of a distinguished senior judge that he had not opened a law book in two years would have astonished his predecessors. Many of us still prefer to consult physical books in the privacy of our offices, but in court judges and lawyers are now increasingly using electronic editions.

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule and this excellent volume, now in its second edition, is a good example. Its slim and sleek format, matching its sister publications the Dictionary of Financial Remedies and At A Glance, ensure that it can be slipped easily into a briefcase and taken to court without difficulty and once there consulted unobtrusively as required, for example if the judge unexpectedly identifies a point that completely undermines your case (“Of course, Mr Baker, this is not my area of the law but….”)

When I drafted the Foreword to last year inaugural edition, we were in the middle of the third Covid-19 lockdown, and I observed that it seemed unlikely that we would return to court in the near future. Writing this Foreword as we emerge from the omicron variant, I hope very much that we will now see a rapid return to court, retaining remote working only for those case management and shorter hearings for which it is properly suited. Even if that hope is fulfilled, however, it is clear that the pandemic has had a very serious and deleterious effect on the family justice system. The damage has been limited by the extraordinary efforts of everyone working in the system under the leadership of the President of the Family Division. But we now face a very significant backlog of cases, in particular in private children’s law where the number of children and families in the system has risen from under 50,000 in March 2019 to over 80,000 by the end of 2021. Great efforts involving the judiciary, practitioners, HMCTS and the Ministry of Justice are now underway to tackle this backlog, in particular by identifying ways of diverting cases from court, but on any view it is going to be with us for a considerable time to come.

Aside from the pandemic, the most significant developments in private children’s law in the past year have involved the treatment of domestic abuse. The decisions of Hayden J in F v M [2021] EWFC 4 and of the Court of Appeal in Re H-N and others [2021] EWCA Civ 448 have focused further attention on the problem of coercive and controlling behaviour and the challenges faced by the family court when trying to identify and deal with it. The consequences of the Court of Appeal’s decision are still being worked through. Meanwhile, Parliament has passed the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 some parts of which are in force with others to be implemented in due course, including important new provisions designed to improve the protection for alleged victims and witnesses going through legal proceedings. Amongst these provisions I would single out the amendments to the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 inserting new sections 31G to Z, prohibiting the conduct of cross-examination in person in certain circumstances and providing a scheme for the appointment of a qualified legal representative to conduct the cross-examination. I note that in the section below headed “Litigants in Person” it is observed that the circumstances in which such an appointment may be made “seem to be very wide” and that the procedure seems likely to become a “common feature” of many disputes about children where allegations of abuse are made. It will be interesting to see whether this prediction is correct. No doubt there will be unforeseen and perhaps unintended consequences, but all judges and practitioners will welcome this overdue reform.

Every family lawyer specialising in this field will find it fascinating to leaf through these pages and admire the way in which the authors have summarised the law so succinctly. They are to be congratulated and thanked for an excellent addition to the family law library.

The Right Honourable Lord Justice Baker

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His Honour Judge Edward Hess

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Zoe Saunders

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Piers Pressdee KC

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Professor Rob George