What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangement Order is another name for Residence and Contact orders. Put simply an application for a Child Arrangement Order can include determination of issues such as who a child will live with, who a child will spend time with and who else can have contact with them. It also covers issues such as where a child will go to school or if a child can travel abroad.

How long do Child Arrangement Orders last?

Orders are valid until the child reaches 16 years of age or in exceptional circumstance 18 years of age. This will be stated in the court order. 
Children’s needs do change and so a Child Arrangement Order may need to be revisited at a later stage to take into account new circumstances.

Who can apply for one?

You can apply if you are a parent or a guardian of the child/children. 

Also, if you meet the following criteria then you have an automatic right to apply for contact with your children:

  • All parties to a marriage where children are a party of their family
  • Having lived with children for at least three years in the last five years Applications to the court must be within 3 months of not living with the child/children
  • Having consent of all persons who hold Parental Responsibility over the child/children
  • Having consent of the Local Authority if the children are in care
  • Having consent of the person whom the child/children live with if there is a current Child Arrangement Order in place. If you do not meet these requirements you must seek leave or permission from the court before you can apply.
    The court will consider:
  • Your connection to the children
  • The merit of your applicationy
  • Whether granting the application will cause any harm Children can also ask the court for permission to grant a Child Arrangement Order, but the court must be satisfied that they sufficiently understand the implications of the request.

What will the order include?

Depending on the application the order will name the parent or individual with whom the child/children will live. It will also identify where appropriate the name(s) of the parent or other parties with whom the child/children will spend time. This can be defined as needed. In some cases this may be a comprehensive annual calendar of contact.

If the application is for a more specific matter, such as where a child will attend school, the order will provide details as appropriate.

Holidays abroad and other domestic issues for children

Decisions over how children’s day to day needs can be met and how holidays will be spent are common problems.

With holidays abroad if the child/children live with you then you can take the child/children abroad for up to one month without the consent of the other parent(s). For any longer period, you will need consent of everyone who holds parental responsibility for the child/children.

If a dispute arises over holidays or any other aspect of managing a child’s needs you may need to apply to the court for a special type of Child Arrangements Order known as a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order.

A Specific Issue Order is an opportunity to invite the court to permit the child/children to engage in an activity, such as a holiday abroad, or a more long term commitment, such as attending a named school.

A Prohibited Steps order is available if you wish to prevent a person from taking on an activity or committing the child/children in a certain way.

How much will it cost to go to court?

It is difficult to predict the cost of going to court as each case is different. We do offer a range of packages and fixed fees to help.

In some cases Legal Aid may be available subject to your financial circumstances and your ability to prove that you’re a victim of domestic violence.

Please call us for a quote and we can explain the process to you.

How are Child Arrangement Orders enforced by the court?

There is a wide range of sanctions available to the court for parties failing to comply with these orders. For further information please contact us.

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