If the parents are unable to agree on a decision, either one of them or both may petition the court to make a child arrangement order.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
A Child Arrangements Order, a Court Order that outlines who is responsible for the child’s care, is called a Child Arrangements Order. This Court Order is used when the parents are unable to agree on how to divide the care of the child.
The ‘child arrangements order” is the final decision.
“Child arrangements orders” replace “residence orders” and “contact orders”. These orders are not required for parents to reapply.
Why is a Child Arrangements Order necessary?
If the separation was bitter, divorcing parents may not always reach an agreement about child custody. If the parents are unable to reach a decision, either one or both of them may petition the court to obtain a child arrangements order. The order may specify where and with whom a child resides, when and how they have contact with non-custodial parents, and other matters related to the child’s welfare.
Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?
Certain groups of people can apply for an order to arrange child custody under Section 8, without needing to first seek permission from the court.
A court can grant permission for another person to apply for a child arrangement order. This is where grandparents, and other extended family members, can apply for child arrangements orders. The court will consider, among other factors, the following:
Participation Requirement at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
The Children and Families Act 2014 requires that a potential applicant attend a family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”) before he or she applies to the court for a Child Orders Order (or any other relevant family application). This is to determine if the issues can be solved by mediation and not by applying to the court.
This doesn’t apply where:
The prospective applicant, or the person’s legal representative, must contact a family mediator in order to arrange attendance at a MIAM.
Court Procedure for Child Arrangements Order
Application form C100 is used to apply for a child arrangements order. The child arrangements application must explain the reasons for the request and the issues. Before issuing the order, the family court will review the bundle of child arrangements orders application. The formal proceedings then begin.
First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing (FHDRA)
The court will usually list the matter for First Hearing if the child arrangements order is approved. This hearing is called the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing. This hearing is intended to address the issues of the parties and determine the best way to resolve them. A Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Officer (CAFCASS) will normally attend this hearing. They are there to protect the best interests for the children. This hearing is intended to assist the parties in resolving the issues. It is not always possible. The court can give directions to the parties if they cannot agree. To exchange witness statements in order to move the matter along.
Dispute Resolution Hearing (DRA)
A Dispute Resolution Hearing is the next hearing that could be listed. This hearing has the purpose of attempting to resolve disputes or to at least narrow points of contention. All evidence currently being presented would be considered. This will often include any reports from CAFCASS. The matter may be placed on the agenda for a final hearing if the issues are not resolved.
It is important for the parties to try and settle all issues at every stage of the case. This is to avoid the large legal fees that often accompany a final hearing. The court will consider all evidence and outstanding issues during this hearing. You will likely be interrogated by your legal representative as well as the legal representative of the other side.
The family court judge will then review the issues and issue a judgment which shall be enshrined in a child arrangements order.
What factors are considered by the judge when making a Child Arrangements Order
These are the issues that the Court will be addressing:
What can we do to help you with your Child Arrangements Order Application?
Our team of family and divorce solicitors can help parents in a custody dispute. Our team of family law and divorce solicitors is available to provide legal advice, advocacy, and help with the drafting of agreements and documents. For example, a solicitor can:
Hourly Rates on Child Arrangement Order
Our child arrangements solicitors are available to assist you on an hourly basis. The hourly rate starts at PS150 + VAT and ends at PS250 + VAT for each hour. This applies to the child arrangements order application. The complexity of the matter will determine the hourly rate.
What is the court fee for Child Arrangements Orders?
The court fee to file a child arrangement order application in family court is PS232. This must be paid at the time of filing the application. Petitioners with low incomes may be eligible for a court fee exemption.
You can apply for child arrangements order by completing application form C100 online.
A person named in the Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to live, will have Parental Responsibility for the child while the Order remains in force. Where a person is named in the Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to spend time or otherwise have contact, but is not named in the Order as a person with whom the child is to live, the Family Court may also provide in the Order for that person to have Parental Responsibility for the child while the Order remains in force.
The Child Arrangements Order will last until the child is 16, or in some exceptional circumstances, until 18. If you reconcile with your ex-partner and move back in together, then the Child Arrangements Order will cease after you’ve lived together for six months.
Applications to the Family Court for Child Arrangements Order follow a standard procedure; however this can be adapted by the Family Court to suit the needs of your case. In any event, you should not expect your Child Arrangements Order case to be resolved immediately. Sometimes, cases can go on for a period of several months.
A ‘specific issue order’ is used to look at a specific question about how the child is being brought up, for example:
You can also apply for a ‘prohibited steps order’ to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing.