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Child Arrangements.

Often parents manage to reach mutually acceptable decisions regarding child arrangements, whether directly with the help of a mediator or a similar professional, but some sadly do not.

There can also be disputes about the level of financial support each parent should provide for the children, or when one parent wishes to go and live elsewhere within the UK or overseas with the children.

Common child arrangements and welfare issues are:

  • With which parent the child should live
  • How much time the child should spend with each parent
  • The religious up-bringing of the child
  • Any proposed medical treatment
  • The child’s education

Do you think you need legal help with child arrangements?

Call the family law team to discuss your options

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7870 3877

or email:

Child arrangement order process

We recognise the value of non-court dispute resolution to help parties settle in a voluntary, consensual and confidential manner. However, if this fails, we will need to issue an application through the court. This application is commonly known as an application for a child arrangements order. If you choose to appoint Fletcher Day, our child arrangements solicitors will prepare the application on your behalf and arrange for this to be issued and served upon the other party before arranging representation for you at the first court hearing and any subsequent court hearings.

The court usually requires input from experts in children matters. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is an independent body of social workers and probation officers which advises the court on what it considers to be the best interests of the children. At the first hearing before the court, a duty CAFCASS Officer will normally be present. If the case is not resolved at that stage, the court may order a report from CAFCASS or, at the expense of the parties, from an Independent social worker.

Child arrangement court hearing

When deciding on orders, judges must consider the checklist set out in section 1 of the Children Act, 1989. The factors that must be taken into account are as follows:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into account age and understanding
  • Physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect of any change in circumstances
  • Age, sex, background
  • Any harm which he the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • The capability of each parent and any other person the court considers relevant, of meeting the child’s needs
  • The range of powers available to the court

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    Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

    Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. This could be a blood parent or stepparent. If you don’t have Parental Responsibility of the child, you’ll need to request permission from the Court to make a separate application for Parental Responsibility.

    This can sometimes be avoided if the other parent is willing to sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement with you.

    Can I change my Child Arrangement Order?

    Once the Order has been issued by the Court, it is possible to vary it. If the variation can’t be agreed with the other party directly, then a further application to the Court will have to be made whereby a similar procedure will be followed to the initial application. The Court will need to reassess the facts to see what has changed to justify amending the Order before deciding on what’s in the child’s best interests.