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Recovery Orders

What is a Recovery Order?

Recovery Orders provide legal measures to assist in the recovery of children who have been unlawfully taken away from or withheld from the person who is responsible for them. A Recovery Order may also be made if the children have run away, or are missing. In the event the children are missing, you might also consider applying for a Seek and Find Order at the same time.

Can I apply for a Recovery Order?

If you are the resident parent (have a residence order made in your favour, or a child arrangements order naming you as a person with whom the child lives), and the children have been unlawfully removed from or kept from your care (e.g. not returned following contact). If no such order is in place and your ex-partner has removed your children from the family home, an application for a Child Arrangements Order would be the appropriate order to request.

You can apply for a Recovery Order if an Emergency Protection Order has been granted in your favour.

If you consider your children to be at risk of significant harm in your ex-partner´s care, then you might consider applying for an Emergency Protection Order, following which a Recovery Order can be made. As an alternative to going to Court, you should notify Social Services who can investigate your concerns.

How does a Recovery Order help?

A Recovery Order directs anyone in possession of the children to produce them when requested to do so by someone authorised by the Court. An authorised person could be anyone who the Court deems suitable, including yourself if you are the applicant.

The order permits the removal of the children by the authorised person and requires anyone who has information about the children´s whereabouts to divulge it when asked by the Police or an Officer of the Court.

The order also authorises the Police to use reasonable force to enable them to search for the children and to enter premises where the Court believes the children might be.

What happens if the children are still withheld?

The people in possession of the children will be committing an offence and the Court can impose fines as a punishment.

What happens if the Police become involved?

Before returning the child to the applicant, or giving the applicant any information as to the whereabouts of the child, the Police must check their records to see whether either party has committed acts of violence. Having located the child, then without notifying the applicant of the child's whereabouts, they may make enquiries with regard to the child's welfare.

If, when the Police check their records, they find that the applicant has a history of violence, or they have concerns about returning the child to the applicant´s care, the Police will not remove the child. They may also advise the respondent to seek legal representation and must notify the Court of their action immediately.

If there is no record of violence and no reason to believe that the applicant is a risk to the children, the Police will return the child to the applicant.

Applying to court

If you are using a solicitor, they will do this for you. Otherwise, download and complete the C3 and C18 Forms. Print and sign three copies of each.

Check how much the court fees are (currently £215), and either take a cheque, postal order or cash for that amount when you go to your local family court.

It will assist both you and the judge if you write a brief Position Statement (see our packages on our main website for templates and guides on writing a position statement). Try to keep the position statement to two to three pages, setting out briefly why you are applying for contact, and why you believe it to be in the children´s best interests. Be factual, and try to be objective in what you write, and the language you use.

A position statement is not essential, but it helps inform the judge, briefly and ideally succinctly, why you are applying for the order, and can assist you in court so you do not forget any points you wish to raise.

Before setting off for the court building, ensure you have with you:

Michael Robinson © 2014

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

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