What is a Child Arrangements Order?
Child Arrangements Orders were first introduced in April 2014 by the Children and Families Act 2014. The law on Child Arrangement Orders amended section 8 of the Children Act 1989 and, subsequently, replaced Contact Orders and Residence Orders.
A Child Arrangements Order is often utilised in cases where the parents cannot come to an agreement on the arrangements linked to the upbringing of their children after a separation. An Order can impose the following arrangements:
a) With whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and
b) When a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person.
A Child Arrangements Order made by the Court are often tailored to individuals’ circumstances. Although sometimes, the Order is brief, they can also be very detailed. For example, they may explicitly state collection and return times, locations for handover, and arrangements for taking the child on holiday outside of the typical contact times.
Do I have the right to submit an application for a Child Arrangements Order?
If you have parental responsibility for the child, you are allowed to present an application for a Child Arrangements Order. If you do not have parental responsibility, you need to ask the Court for permission prior to making an application for a Child Arrangements Order.
Can I still see my child if a Child Arrangements Order is made in favour of the other parent?
In the majority of cases, yes. Often, whichever parent does not live with the child will be granted contact rights. However, there are some circumstances that may prevent contact or place restrictions on the level of contact. The Court may request assistance from other professionals such as CAFCASS or the Local Authority for guidance in respect of this.
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How old does the child have to be for an Order to be made?
A Child Arrangements Order cannot be made in respect of children over 18 years old. Any Child Arrangements Orders made will apply until the child turns 16 years old. Unless the court are satisfied there are exceptional circumstances for the Order to last until 18 years of age.
What are the types of Contact?
- Indirect Contact– may consist of letters, emails and telephone calls. This may be ordered if, for example, a parent is in prison, lives far away from the child or to help assist in re-establishing a relationship after a lengthy period where no contact has taken place, or there are safeguarding issues which need to be clarified before moving on to direct contact.
- Direct Contact– involves face to face meetings. Where appropriate, direct contact can be supervised or supported.
Specific arrangements including the time and date of contact can be set out in a Child Arrangements Order. These arrangements can be flexible and unsupervised.
Failing to comply with a Child Arrangements Order amounts to a breach and could result in penalties, inclusive of unpaid work, imprisonment or a fine.
What Applications can I make under section 8 of the Children Act 1989?
There are various Orders individuals can apply to the Courts for, including;
A Child Arrangements Order – this will regulate whom the child will live with and spend time with and when
A Prohibited Steps Order – this is applied for when one parent objects to something that the other parent is doing concerning their child
Specific Issue Order – the Courts can consider a Specific Issue Order if parents are unable to agree on a specific aspect of their child’s upbringing.
In all cases the Order must be applied for and granted by the Courts.
How Ringrose Law can help
At Ringrose Law we have a team of dedicated specialists that can represent you in Court. Our team can help you with your application for a Child Arrangements Order. We have the experience and knowledge to understand the process and guide you through every step of the way.
Sometimes, you may be able to settle disputes out of Court and we can provide a mediation service which will avoid having to go to Court, this is often a quicker and cheaper way to help work out your disagreements and talk through any concerns you may have, coming to an equally beneficial conclusion with your partner.
Whatever requirement suits you best we can help, so please contact the Ringrose Law family team in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford and Newark.Contact Children Department