Child abduction - Glossary of Terms

The following are terms you will come across on this website

Access Order

  • An order made prior to the implementation of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, providing for a parent without actual custody to have access to the child and the terms on which access is to take place. (See also Contact Order)


  • Parent or guardian who has applied to have the child returned.

Contact Order

  • An order under the law as reformed by the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, requiring the person with whom the child lives to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order, or for the child and that person otherwise to have contact with each other.

Custody Order

  • An order made prior to the implementation of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, giving to a person either legal custody (the rights over a child affecting his or her person, including how the child spends his or her time), or actual custody (physical possession of the child). (See also Residence Order)


  • A person other than a parent, appointed by a court, or by a parent to look after the interests of a child after the parents death. A guardian has parental responsibility for the child.

  • The Central Authority – Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service

  • The Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 designates the Lord Chancellor as the Central Authority for England and Wales and the Department of Justice as the central authority for Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service, discharges the functions of the Central Authority in Northern Ireland.
  • The duties of the Central Authority are carried out by the Central Business Unit within the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service. The Central Business Unit is also the Central Authority under the Brussels II Regulation (Brussels IIa) having been appointed in accordance with Article 67 of the Regulation.


  • The power of a court to hear and decide a case or make a certain order; the territorial limits within which the judgements or orders of a court may be enforced or executed.

Prohibited Steps Order

  • An order under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, that no step of the kind or kinds specified in the order, which could be taken by a parent in meeting his or her parental responsibility, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court. Typically these orders prohibit a person from taking the child away from their usual home.

Residence Order

  • An order under the law the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, settling the arrangements to be made as to the person with whom the child is to live. A residence order does not deprive either of the child's parents of parental responsibility for other aspects of the childs upbringing. In particular it does not deprive the non residence parent of the right to have a say in where the child will live.


  • The parent or guardian who is alleged to have wrongfully removed or retained the child.

Revised Brussels II regulation

  • This is Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 which took effect from 1 March 2005 and governs abductions and contact and access within the European Union. The Regulation is also known as Brussels II(a) and Brussels II bis.

Rights of Custody

  • For the purposes of the Hague Convention, rights of custody include, but are not limited to, rights relating to the care of the child and in particular the right to determine place of residence of the child. For example a parent who has a residence/custody or a contact/access order with respect to a child, will have rights of custody.
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