Arrangements for Children

Child Arrangement Orders – Children Act 1989

It is always preferable if separated parents can agree between themselves the childcare arrangements for their children.  When an agreement can be reached it is far more likely to be acceptable to both parties and therefore stand the test of time.  In addition it will help to foster better parental relationships for the future.

Sadly, this is not always possible and that is where we can help.  We understand what typical childcare arrangements look like and what often works well and what doesn’t.  We also understand how stressful it can be where it hasn’t been possible to agree childcare arrangements or one parent isn’t abiding by the terms of any agreement reached.

Child mediation and negotiation

In most cases we would attempt to resolve any dispute either through a process of negotiation or alternatively a referral to a local family mediation company.  We are highly skilled in negotiating arrangements without inflaming what might be an already strained situation. 

Court applications and types of Children Act Order

In the event that a negotiated settlement or mediation isn’t successful it is possible to make an application to the Court.  These applications might include:

  1. An application for one parent to spend time with their child or children.  These types of application were previously called applications for ‘contact’ or ‘access’;
  2. An application for an order that their child or children live or reside with them.  These types of application were previously called ‘residence’ or ‘custody’;
  3. An application for an order preventing one parent from taking a course of action such as removing the child from the country (abduction).  The types of order are called ‘Prohibited Steps Orders’;
  4. An application to determine a particular issue such as which school their child or children should attend.  This is called a Specific Issue Order.

The Child’s Welfare

When the Court considers these types of cases it is the child’s welfare that is the ‘paramount consideration’.  When considering a child’s best interests or welfare the Court will consider the following matters:

  • the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
  • his physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
  • his age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant;
  • any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
  • the range of powers available to the court.

For those parents seeking a Court Order to see their child or children it is worth noting that the Courts start from the presumption that it is in the best interests of a child for that parent to be involved in their lives.

Applications by extended family or non-family members

Applications for Child Arrangements Orders aren’t limited to parents either.  Other family members such as Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and even non-family members can also apply for a Child Arrangements Order although they would first need to seek the permission of the Court to apply.