What is a Child Arrangement order?

When parents separate – or sometimes even if they have never lived together – it is necessary for them to agree on where the child or children will live, and how much access the non-resident parent will have.

Naturally, it isn’t always possible for two people to agree on these child arrangements, as very few parents find it easy to be separated from their children for any extended period of time.

In these cases, before you can apply for a Child Arrangement Order, you must first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). If mediation has been tried but failed, it may then be a good idea to seek a Child Arrangement Order in the family Court.

This is a court order that is binding on both parents, and which sets out the times and days that children must live at one residence or another.

Importantly, in the eyes of the law, the starting point for all Child Arrangements is that the child should have contact with both parents, unless it can be demonstrated that this would adversely affect the child’s welfare.

A family court will also be guided by the following welfare checklist when considering a child arrangements order:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child, taking into account their age, level of understanding and maturity. Most courts regard children of nine years and older as having an understanding of their circumstances.
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect that any change of circumstances will have on the child.
  • The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics that the court thinks are relevant.
  • Any harm that the child may have suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • How capable the parties in the case are of meeting the child’s emotional and physical needs.
  • All of the powers that the court has under the Children Act, which could be used within the proceedings.

Bearing all of this in mind, if you are about to go before a family court to obtain a Child Arrangement Order, you may find it useful to speak to one of our experienced family lawyers to help ensure you are prepared to talk about the situation in the best way, and especially with regard to the welfare checklist above.

You can talk to one of our friendly experts today by calling 020 8771 5000 or contact us online today and we will call you