Contact orders in adoption

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contact orders in adoption
  • Planning for adoption and contact
  • Adoption and contact—principles
  • Pre-adoption contact and placement orders
  • Applicants and principles
  • Procedure
  • Duration
  • Variation, suspension and discharge
  • Suspension of contact where there is no s 26 order
  • Practice
  • More...

Contact orders in adoption

This Practice Note sets out the general principles to be applied in relation to contact orders, both pre- and post-adoption. It also details who may apply for a contact order in adoption proceedings, together with the procedure to be applied and provides guidance on the duration, variation, suspension of contact orders in adoption and discharge considerations.

Planning for adoption and contact

The issue of contact must be addressed in the social worker’s permanency report and also by the agency decision-maker. In the rare cases where the adoption panel considers whether children should be placed for adoption, and in all cases concerning matches between children and prospective adopters, the panel must address contact issues. There is no presumption for or against contact once the adoption agency is authorised to place the child for adoption.

Adoption and contact—principles

Prior to the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002), the clean break principle often held sway in social work thinking and court decisions, and the ability of the natural family to support the placement and not undermine it were seen as prerequisites to any direct contact in most cases. The courts normally discouraged making contact orders linked to adoption.

Since ACA 2002 came into force, the Court of Appeal has held that the courts should reappraise this non-interventionist position and in some cases may need to make contact orders

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