Child Arrangements

We understand that one of the most stressful and contentious matters in dealing with the breakup of a relationship concerns arrangements for child contact and residence.

Without a doubt, both parties will want the best for their child and we appreciate that sometimes those parties may not see eye-to-eye.

If you and your former partner are not able to reach mutually agreeable arrangements for contact with your children, you may need to consider a Child Arrangements Order.

We can help.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order provides for where a child should live or the amount of time a child should spend with a parent/guardian where there is a dispute between the parents. The Court view the welfare of your children as the first and paramount concern. We will encourage and assist you to agree arrangements with your former partner. In the event that it is not possible to reach agreement through negotiation or alternate dispute resolution such as mediation, we can assist in Children Act Proceedings.

When deciding about a Child Arrangements Order the court considers a statutory checklist known as the welfare checklist:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child in light of their age and understanding.
  • The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child.
  • The likely effect of any change in the child’s circumstances.
  • The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics the Court considers relevant.
  • Any harm the child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering.
  • How capable each parent is of meeting the needs of the child.
  • The powers of the court.

Where a child arrangements order is in force, the person who has the child living with them can take the child outside England and Wales for up to a month at a time without needing the permission of any other persons who have parental responsibility or the Court.

Child arrangements orders also provide someone who is not the legal parent of a child with parental responsibility for example:

  • One parent’s unmarried new partner.
  • One parent’s former partner, who is not a legal parent of the child, but with whom the child spends regular time.
  • The biological father of a child who is co-parenting with a lesbian couple in circumstances where he is not legally the father.

Contact is considered the child’s right to see the other members of the family. The child’s welfare is paramount and the above welfare checklist is considered when considering any application for a child arrangements for a child to spend time with a parent/family member. Generally the courts believe that it is in a child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with both sides of the family.

Grandparents rights

Unlike parents, grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply for a contact order.

If you have been denied contact with your grandchildren we can help you to make an application to the court for a Child Arrangements Order if negotiation/mediation does not provide a satisfactory outcome. However, because you are not a parent of the children, you will need to make an application for leave, i.e. permission of the Court, to file your application.

The purpose of this is to ensure that only well founded applications of third parties are allowed to be made. In deciding whether or not to grand leave the Court take into account:

  • The nature of the application.
  • Your connection with the children.
  • Any risk that there might be of any proposed application disrupting the children’s life to such an extend that they would be harmed by it.

How long will it take?

Unfortunately the Court process is slow. If CAFCASS are directed to file a report, this can take 10 – 12 weeks to prepare their report and the entire case may take up to 12 months.

Please call 0333 016 3333 and speak to a member of our Team if you require any help or assistance.


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Our office hours are 9am – 5:30pm
Monday to Friday
24/7 HELPLINE 0333 016 3333