Child Arrangement Orders
What is a Child Arrangement Order?
If your relationship has ended and you have children, you will need to make some important decisions about where the children will live and the time that will be spent with each parent. This can then be encompassed in the form of a Child Arrangements Order. How long it takes to obtain a child arrangement order will depend on several factors.
If you and the other parent can agree on arrangements, the court will not usually make an order. This is known as the no order principle. If you are unable to agree then you can apply to court for assistance in making those decisions. This will be based on your family's circumstances and what is in the best interests of the children. Every family is different and so it is important to consider all aspects of the family situation in deciding what is best for the children involved. This is known as the welfare check.
In any proceedings concerning children the child’s best interests are paramount and the court must consider the following, known as the welfare checklist:
- the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his/her age and understanding);
- his/her physical, emotional and educational needs;
- the likely effect on him/her of any change in his circumstances;
- his/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/hers which the court considers relevant;
- any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- how capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs;
- the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.
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Frequently asked questions
If your ex-partner is being difficult about you seeing your child, there are a couple of options available. We do recommend things like mediation, going through a non-contentious way, but ultimately you could apply for a child arrangements order, or a contact order whichever you would prefer to call it, and the court will get involved to try and agree a timetable of who will spend time with the child, when and who the child live with.
There are a few types of orders in which the court can make in relation to children. The first is a child arrangements order, where the court will make a decision on who the children live with and how much contact they spend with a parent. The second is a prohibited steps order. The court will prohibit a parent or stop them from doing a certain thing or action. The third is a specifics issue order and the court will make a determination on a specific issue that has been brought to their attention by either parent.
We would always recommend that you and your partner try and come to an agreement outside of court. However, if you cannot agree on who the child should live with, an application can be made to the court for a child arrangements order, in which the court will make a decision on where the child lives and who he has contact with.
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Jessica is an Associate Solicitor and has specialised in family law throughout her career