Family Assistance Order
Family Assistance Orders direct a local authority or court welfare officer to “befriend” a family. These orders are intended to last for a short specified period of time.
The order may be made on the application of a parent – but are more usually made at the suggestion of the judge who may recognise that parents and children in a particular case need some focused support.
Family Assistance Orders can be designed to provide expert input – for example to help with deficits in parenting skills or to help resolve otherwise intractable disputes between parents about contact.
In the writer’s view Family Assistance Orders are an under utilised resource. One of the reasons for this is that the Court cannot make such an order without the consent of the parties and either the local authority or court welfare service. Local authorities are often resistant to such orders being made because of the pressure upon their resources.