Child Arrangement Orders

When separating from a partner, it is essential that matters concerning children are addressed to ensure the interests of the child(ren) are the primary consideration in any agreement made regarding co-parenting.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

The Courts consider that the parents are the best people to make decisions in respect of their children. On divorce and separation many parents are able to make sensible arrangements for their children to ensure the children spend time with both parents. However, if this is not possible, there are various options available to support a parent in coming to an amicable agreement in respect of your children.

In cases where an amicable agreement cannot be reached by the parents, and where the court agrees it would be in the best interest of the children, an application for a Child Arrangements Order can be made.

This is a legally biding agreement which sets out where the children live and who and when they spend time with, or have contact with. If after the order is made the parents wish to change the agreement, this would not be considered a breach of the order, but equally would not be legally binding unless it is taken back to court for formal verification. Unless court verification were to take place, in the event of any disagreement over access to the children, this informal agreement would become null and void and the original terms of the Child Arrangements Order would be enforceable.

A Child Arrangements Order ensures you have legal access to your children and is advisable particularly where the situation may turn acrimonious.

Individual issues can be dealt with by a Specific Issue Order. This can be used to deal with issues such as schooling or taking a child abroad on holiday. A prohibited steps order can be used to stop a parent from doing something, such as changing a child’s name or school.

Breach of Child Arrangements Order

In the event that a breach of the Child Arrangements Order occurs, a formal application for enforcement would need to be made to the court.

If the court finds beyond reasonable doubt that the terms of the Child Arrangements Order have not been complied with, then they may issue and Enforcement Order. This may result in an unpaid work order being issued.

Is should be noted that there are reasonable excuses that can be put forward for the breach of the arrangement order occurring, such as concerns over safety of the children when in the care of those named in the order.

Enforcement of Child Arrangements Order

If a breach of the Child Arrangements Order is ongoing, you may wish to start enforcement proceedings. However, this can be a lengthy process, and will likely involve Cafcass obtaining reports surrounding the welfare, wishes and feelings of the children.

Emergency Child Arrangements Order

An emergency Child Arrangements Order can be granted in cases where there are concerns over the welfare of a child or children.

In order to obtain an emergency order, an application needs to be made to the court. In most cases, the court will deal with the application on the same day, due to the sensitive nature of the matter. The order will be issued without notice being given to the other party in order to protect the children.  

Get specialist advice on Child Arrangements Orders

Call us on 01206 593933 today and speak with one of our family law experts.
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Our family team are recognised experts in family law, with partner Carol Toulson recognised as a leading individual by the Legal 500 - an independent industry research body.

Our family team are available at all six of our offices - Colchester (Marks Tey), Braintree, Sudbury, Halstead, Coggeshall or Tiptree.

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