A child arrangement order is an order from the Court where the court decides either where a child will live or who a child can spend time with and for how long.

After separation or divorce when the parents can't come to a decision on their own, one or both parents may apply to the court for a child arrangements order. Our highly experienced child arrangements solicitors are experts in dealing with child arrangements order applications.

A 'child arrangements order' decides:

  • where your child lives;
  • when your child spends time with each parent;
  • when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example).

'Child arrangements orders' replace 'residence orders' and 'contact orders'. Parents with these orders do not need to re-apply.

Why a child arrangement order is necessary?

Divorcing or separating parents can't always come to an agreement on matters like child custody, especially if the separation has been an acrimonious one. When the parents can't come to a decision on their own, one or both parents may apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This order can stipulate where and with whom a child lives, when and where they have contact with a non-custodial parent, and certain other matters relating to the child's welfare.

what is the court procedure for a child arrangement order?

The child arrangement order application is made using application form C100. The child arrangements order application would need to explain the orders sought and the issues at hand. The family court will consider the child arrangements order application bundle before they issue it and thereafter the formal proceedings commence.

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing (FHDRA)

If the child arrangements order application is issued, the court will normally list the matter for the First Hearing. This is known as the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing (FHDRA). The aim is to consider the parties' issues and identify the steps to resolve the issues. This hearing will also normally be attended by a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service officer (CAFCASS).

They aim to safeguard the best interests of the children. The purpose of attendance at this hearing is for everybody to try to help the parties to resolve the issues. This is not always possible. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will set directions (i.e. to exchange witness statements) to progress the matters.

Dispute Resolution Hearing (DRA)

The next hearing that can be listed is a Dispute Resolution Hearing (DRA). The aim of this hearing is to try to resolve the disputes or at the very least narrow the points of contention.

The ongoing evidence directed would be considered and this will often also include consideration of any report(s) from CAFCASS. If the issues are not resolved, the matter will likely be listed for a final hearing.

Final Hearing

It is very important that the parties try to settle the issues at each stage of the case. This is with a view to avoiding the substantial legal costs that can often be attached to a final hearing. During this hearing, the court would consider the outstanding issues and evidence submitted.

It is likely that at this stage you will be questioned by both your legal representative and the other party’s legal representative.

The family court judge will then consider the issues and make a judgement which shall be enshrined within a child arrangements order.

Need legal advice & assistance?

Family legal issues can arise from disagreements on child arrangements, relationship breakdown, domestic violence and many other areas that can be legally complicated. Our family lawyers help to demystify the legalities of the family law system.

Our specialist family solicitors will help you navigate complex family law issues. We will break down every aspect of your case, explain the process in simple terms and give you clear and strategic advice on what to do next.

Contact our family law solicitors today for a free initial consultation and assessment.

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