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Who can apply for a child arrangements order?
Child law legal advice - further information
If you can’t agree the arrangements for your children with your former partner – either between yourselves or through mediation – then the court will need to decide for you.
The court’s main priority when deciding child arrangements is the wellbeing of your children. In most cases, they view children having regular contact with both parents as being best for their wellbeing. The court will also view contact with the child’s extended family (for instance grandparents) as important to their upbringing.
When deciding the details of a child arrangements order, the court must take into account all of the factors listed in the welfare checklist These include:
- The child’s wishes and feelings (these are not necessarily a deciding factor)
- The parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
- Any harm or risk of harm to the child
- The child’s age, sex and background
- The likely effects of any change to the child’s care arrangements
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
Parental Responsibility relates to the legal rights, duties, powers and authority a parent has regarding the upbringing of their child. Parents who have parental responsibility are obliged to agree on important issues surrounding their child’s lives and upbringing where possible. When matters cannot be agreed between parents then the Family Court can be invited by either parent to assist in making decisions on behalf of the parents.
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.
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 you have grandchildren, the breakdown of a marriage or relationship between parents can cause significant stress and emotional anxiety especially when it comes to retaining contact with your grandchildren.
In the UK, grandparent’s have no automatic rights and often parental responsibility is limited to parents, but you can still apply for a child arrangements order in certain circumstances.
Our highly experienced legal team are always on hand to offer advice and support in relation to your rights to see your grandchildren.