Child Arrangement Orders

Child Arrangement Orders

You can ask our online solicitors for advice on child arrangement order using the question box on the front of our website or the following free legal advice guide may answer your questions.

Legislation to protect children is constantly evolving to ensure that their welfare is safeguarded and they achieve the best outcomes. Some of the recent developments include the introduction of what is known as Child Arrangement Orders in 2014. The content of these Orders brings together existing legislation and combines them into a single order.

child arrangement order

Child Arrangement Orders can be used in a number of very specific circumstances and they can have an impact on the decisions made about a child’s upbringing.

Child Arrangement Orders Explained

Residence and Contact Orders were updated and refined to create Child Arrangement Orders which define where a child should live, who they should live with, who they spend time with and what visiting arrangements are in place. These orders can be issued to more than one individual but there are specific guidelines on who this applies to.

Once a designated individual has been specified on a Child Arrangement Order, they have full responsibility for the child for the full duration of the order.

The Order can be particularly flexible in that it allows all involved parties to be actively involved in decisions that relate to visitation and contact. There are some situations where the court may intervene during this process or provide particular details in the Order. They may also instruct how, when and where the contact should take place. When reviewing each case, the Court will determine whether the Order must specify that a third party must be present during contact.

On occasions, the content of a Child Arrangement Order may reflect other orders that have been made concerning a child. This could for example, involve a child who resides with both parents albeit in different homes. This type of arrangement is often organised through a shared residence order. The child may not spend equal amounts of time at each residence, but the specifics of time at each property will be specified in any orders that were previously granted.

Application for a Child Arrangement Order

An application for an order can be made by any parent or guardian of the child. In some instances, an automatic right to apply for contact with the child applies.

Typically, this would include:

  • Either spouse in a marriage where the child was part of the family
  • Any adult who lived with the child for a period of at least three years from the last five, provided that an application for a Child Arrangement Order was made within three months of the child no longer living with the adult.
  • Where children are under the care of the Local Authority and they grant permission to an applicant
  • If everyone who holds parental responsibility for the child gives their consent to an individual to make an application for the Order
  • Any individual who has been granted a residence order for the child
  • Any individual who has parental responsibility for the child in question
  • There are others who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order, but where this applies, the Court must review their information before an agreement can be granted.

    Where the Court assess applications they will take the following into consideration:
  • The child’s relationship to the applicant
  • The reason for the application
  • The actual or potential risk that the application may have on the child including any impact on their welfare and stability of living situations

Children can also ask the court for permission to acquire a Child Arrangements Order. The Court must be satisfied in this situation that the child has a good understanding of their request and the implications that it has.

Duration of the Order

Once granted, a Child Arrangements Order will typically last until the child reaches the age of 16 or 18 years. The only exception to this rule is if the order specifically states a timeframe. In certain situations, the court may instruct that the period of the order is for a short period or for a longer timeframe.

Where the holder of the order moves back in with their ex-partner, the order will no longer apply once the couple have been living together for six months.

Overseas Visits

The Child Arrangement Order operates in a similar way to a Residence Order in relation to taking a child abroad. The Order states that if it is in force, and you are a named individual on the order who the child can spend time with, you are permitted to take the child on holiday abroad provided that the other parent or the court has consented to the trip.

If you wish to take the child abroad and you are a named individual on the order, you are permitted to take the child overseas for no longer than one month without obtaining consent. If you wish to take the child abroad for longer, you may still be able to but you must obtain consent of those who have parental responsibility.

Where this is not possible, a court order can be issued to give you permission to take a longer trip.

Enforcement of a Child Arrangement Order

A Child Arrangement Order is enforceable even if the child does not live with those named on the order, or whether the child has regular, little or no contact with the holder of the Order. The court has the power to issue a Child Arrangement Order or revoke it if they believe that it is not in the best interests of the child.

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