What is a child arrangements order?

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If you are unable to agree arrangements for your children following separation from the other parent, then you will need to apply to the court for a ‘child arrangements order’. The term is still fairly new (it was introduced in 2014, replacing ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders) and many people are not familiar with it. What exactly does it mean?

A child arrangements order is defined as an order regulating arrangements relating to any of the following:

(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.

In other words, a child arrangements order can set out how the child’s time is shared between the parents (and anyone else, for example grandparents), and also what other types of contact (such as telephone calls, Skype messaging, and so on) each parent is to have with the child. The order can specify that the child should live with both parents (at different times), or that they should live with one parent and have contact with the other.

There is a difference between an order specifying that the child is to live with a parent and an order saying that a parent is to have contact with a child. The parent with whom the child is to live may take the child abroad for up to a month without the agreement of the other parent, or the court, whereas a parent who just has contact may not remove the child without the other parent’s agreement, or a court order.

Child arrangements orders last until the child reaches the age of sixteen years or, in exceptional circumstances, until they reach the age of eighteen.

The principles that the courts use to decide what to do on an application for a child arrangements order are set out in this post.

If you require further details regarding child arrangements orders, Family Law Café can help you find the advice you need. To contact us click the Contact link above and fill in the form, or call us on 020 3904 0506.

Image: parent/child shadow, by Anders Andersson, licensed under CC BY 2.0.