Child Arrangements Order

Going through a divorce is never easy and when children are involved it can be a much tougher process. Here at K J Smith our professional child law solicitors can help families organise and prepare the arrangements for their children.

We’ll sift through the legal jargon to assist you through the process of obtaining a Child Arrangements Order to ensure you’re happy with the final arrangements made.

Understanding what a Child Arrangements Order is

Previously, ‘child arrangements’ have been known under a number of terms. These were; child custody, access, residence and contact. These were replaced with child arrangements orders which we see today. The focus is on what is best for the child as well as emphasising the need for shared parenting. Shared parenting does not mean a child has equal division of time with each parent, but rather that each parent is involved equally in the child’s life.

A Child Arrangements Order can help to determine where a child lives and whom they spend time with. Our team of child law solicitors can help you with the following situations:

  • Where your children live and how often they spend time with the other parent.
  • Financial arrangements for your children which may include matters such as child maintenance.
  • Who has access to your children and when they can visit or spend time with your children.
  • Grandparents’ rights and their access to the children.

A Child Arrangements Order lasts until the child or children turn 16. Until that age, parents are responsible for deciding certain aspects of the child’s life.

It’s important throughout the process to not forget the welfare of the child. Our solicitors and especially the courts have a duty to consider the welfare of the child when examining the child arrangements. This is to ensure that the child’s feelings are heard and considered, taking into account their age and understanding, and that both parents are capable of meeting the child’s needs.

When to apply for a Child Arrangements Order

When disputes arise, it can be difficult to come to any amicable decision and so enlisting professional help can bridge the gap between disagreements to ensure a fair decision is made for both the parents and the children involved.

Attending court can usually be avoided should both parents be able to come to an agreement on where the child or children live and how much time each parent can spend with their children.

However, if neither parent can agree on which parent the child should live with or how often the child should spend time with the other parent, parents can then choose to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. The terms of the Child Arrangements Order are legally binding and can be enforced against a parent that does not comply.

Before you apply for a Child Arrangements Order, you will be required to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting). This meeting gives parents the opportunity to discuss disputes before taking them to court and consider alternative methods of resolving the dispute before continuing with the application process.

Who has responsibility over the children?

Parental Responsibility is the term for the legal rights and duties a parent has in respect of a child. This involves the right to make decisions such as what religion a child has, any medical treatment they receive, where the go to school and the arrangements for where they live and whom they spend time with.

The mother of a child will automatically have parental responsibility, as will the father if he was married to the mother at the time the child was born, or is he subsequently marries the mother.

If the father was not married to the mother when the child was born, he will only have Parental Responsibility if his name is registered on the birth certificate.

If a father does not have Parental Responsibility, a Parental Responsibility Agreement can be arranged for the father in order to give him responsibility over the child or children. This will require the agreement of the mother.

A Parental Responsibility Agreement can also be acquired for step-parents if they are married or in a civil partnership with the other parent.

Applying for a Child Arrangements Order

If both parents cannot agree on the arrangements for their child and have gone through all the necessary steps before applying for a court order, parents can then take the next step in filling in a C100 court form.

In cases where domestic violence is present in the relationship, certain requirements to the application process such as MIAM may be treated differently, as to not put parents or children in situations where they may feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

Once you have prepared and submitted a C100 court form, both parents will be expected to attend a ‘directions hearing’ with the court. During the hearing, the courts will try to establish particular arrangements for the child or children that both parents can agree on or, if agreement cannot be reached, what issues the Court is required to determine.

The hearing will also identify if the child in question is at any type of risk from either parent.

How long does it take to get a Child Arrangements Order?

If both parents agree without the need to apply for a C100 court order, the process can be as quick as it needs to be. However if parents have made the decision to go to court, it all depends on how quickly parents can come to an agreement, which in some cases could be weeks or months.

If matters progress to a Final Hearing (Trial) and the Court is required to make a decision as the parents are unable to agree, the process could take between 6-12 months.

Free, no obligation consultation

We offer a free initial 45 minute consultation to give you the opportunity to meet us and receive some initial advice regarding your circumstances.

Please contact our divorce lawyers today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading Head Office), 0118 418 1200 (Reading Central), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke), 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield), 01235 375500 (Abingdon), 01344 513000 (Ascot) or email info@kjsmith.co.uk.

We also serve a wide range of other areas including Bracknell, Gerrards Cross, Maidenhead, Marlow, Oxford, Slough, Wokingham, and High Wycombe.

Our Office Locations

All our offices are easily accessible by road, rail or bus and we are open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 6:00pm. With today's busy schedules, we offer telephone appointments outside normal office hours until 9pm on Thursdays and between 10am and 3pm on Saturdays.

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If you would like to visit our team of family solicitors, we have offices in Henley-on-Thames, Woodley, Reading (Head Office), Reading (Central), Basingstoke, Guildford, Beaconsfield, Abingdon and Ascot. We serve a wide range of other areas including Bracknell, Gerrards Cross, Maidenhead, Marlow, Oxford, Slough, High Wycombe and Wokingham.

Why not contact our team of divorce solicitors for a free initial consultation today? We offer a free initial consultation that can take place in any one of our offices or over the telephone.

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