Child Arrangements

Child Arrangement Solicitors

When parents separate one of the hardest aspects of life is that you can’t both be with your children as often as you want to be. New child arrangements must be considered, such as where the child will live and how much time they will spend with the other parent.

Our expert family lawyers have many years experience in drafting child arrangement orders for our clients. To understand how we can help with your situation, please call us on 01256 630080 or complete our online enquiry form.

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangement Order is a Court Order which sets out who a child should live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with. The order can state whether contact is direct or indirect e.g. phone calls or Skype video calls. The order can detail the times when contact should take place and who can be present.

The key to getting this right is always to put the needs of the children first, by considering questions like:

  • Which parent has the most time available to look after them
  • Whose home is nearest to your children’s school and friends
  • What changes might happen in terms of schools as children get older

Answering questions like these can go a long way to helping you reach an agreement that is in your child or children’s best interests. If you can do this, there may be no need to involve the court as legal intervention is usually only necessary when parents can’t reach an agreement.

However, particularly at a time when emotions are running high, it isn’t always possible for even the most loving parents to agree on suitable child arrangements.

When that happens our specialist family lawyers are always here to help you with every aspect of children’s law and child arrangements.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

A parent or anyone with parental responsibility can apply for an order as well as any person with whom the child has lived with for at least three years within the last five years, and their application to the Court is made within 3 months of the children no longer living with them

For anyone else the Court will need to grant permission for their application to be considered. When reaching the decision to grant permission, the Court will consider the chances of the application succeeding, their connection with your children and whether granting the Order would cause the children harm.

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How is a Child Arrangement Order enforced?

Anyone who is named as a party within a Court Order may make a further application to the Court to have it enforced. This application is sought when another party doesn’t comply with the Court Order and can be made irrespective of whether the child lives with them.

An application should be made to the Family Court who will list the case within 20 working days before the previously allocated Judge (where possible). The Court has a wide range of powers and can impose sanctions on anyone who doesn’t comply with a Child Arrangement Order. Additionally, the Court can put measures in place to ensure that parties attend the upcoming hearing if they haven’t been to previous hearings.

Child arrangement solicitors - Further information

Until the child is 16, or 18 in exceptional circumstances unless otherwise ordered by the Court. However, if you move back in with your ex-partner, the Order will cease after a period of 6 months of your living together.

If the Court has granted a Child Arrangement Order or Contact Order allowing you contact with your child, and you are being refused access to your child, this could be deemed in breach of the Contact Order. If that is the case, we advise that you apply to the Family Court to enforce the terms of the Order.

If you are successful, your ex-partner could face a fine or other penalty. We can consider the terms of the Contact Order in detail and provide advice based on your individual circumstances as to what steps you should take.

If a Child Arrangement Order is in force and you’re named as a person the child spends time or otherwise has contact with, you can’t take them abroad without the consent of the person with whom the child currently lives. If you can’t get this, you’ll need to make an application to the Court, which should be marked as urgent should there be a time restriction.

If you’re named in a Child Arrangement Order as a person the child lives with, you can take your children abroad for up to a month without anyone else’s consent. For longer periods, you need the consent of each holder of Parental Responsibility for the children, or a Court Order which grants the Court’s consent through a Specific Issue Order.

When a Child Arrangement Order is in force, you cannot change a child’s name without the agreement of each person who has Parental Responsibility for the child, or failing this, the Court’s consent through a Specific Issue Order.

Previously, people would apply for a Residence Order for the child to live with them, and a Contact Order if they sought to have contact with the child. However, they’re now both referred to as Child Arrangement Orders, which cover who the child should live with and what contact they should have.

The same application will be made for the child to live with you and for contact, i.e. a Child Arrangement Order for the child to live with you, or a Child Arrangement Order to have contact with the child. However, what will differ is the information inputted into the application regarding what you seek from the Court. When the Child Arrangement Order states the child lives with both parents (although this will be in different places at different times), it’s comparable to the old Shared Residence Order (as before, the times spent at each parent’s homes can be different).

The same features of the resident parent and non-resident parent exist – i.e. a parent the child lives with (the resident parent) can take children abroad for up to a month without the non-resident parent’s or Court’s consent, while the non-resident parent (parent who the child spends time with or otherwise has contact with) cannot.

Existing Residence and Contact Orders will be treated as Child Arrangement Orders. Bear in mind that if you were a resident parent (including a parent with shared residence), you’ll be considered a person with whom the child lives (with the same status/rights that you had as a resident parent).

However, if you had a Contact Order, you’ll be considered a person with whom the child spends time or otherwise has contact with (again, with the same status/rights as existed before the new Order was introduced).

Trusted child arrangement solicitors

Our experienced child arrangement solicitors are here to offer you expert guidance and representation to protect the interests of your family. Contact our friendly team today by calling 01256 630080.

With offices located in Reading, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Guildford, Salisbury, Camberley and Southampton, our child arrangement solicitors have a strong regional presence and offer expert legal advice on all matters relating to child arrangements.

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