Understanding Child Arrangement Orders
When a couple separate there can be disputes over where the child or children will live going forward. When communication has broken down between the couple this can be difficult to negotiate particularly if there is a history of domestic abuse in the household. If the parties can’t agree then a Child Arrangement Order may be required. This is an Order from the Court to determine where the children will live and what contact they will have with the other parent.
If it is decided that shared care is appropriate this does not mean that each parent will possess equal time with the children involved. Child Arrangement Orders are made under the Childrens Act 1989, section 8. There are only certain people who can apply for this Order without the permission of the Court at the first instance and they are:
- Parents, guardians or a special guardian of the child
- Someone who the child has lived with for more than 3 years
- Civil partners or spouses if the child if part of that family
- Those with a Residence Order for the child
- A person with parental responsibility
Grandparents do not have direct rights to apply unless they meet one of the criteria above. They can apply to the Court for permission to obtain permission to make a Child Arrangement Order. Speak to us first if you are unsure which category you fall under with regard to this or if you require assistance applying for this permission.
The steps you’ll need to take
Usually but not always, you will have to attend what is known as a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The purpose of a MIAM is for a mediator to explain what mediation is and to determine whether this can settled without beginning court proceedings. This involves getting the parties together with the help of a neutral third party. The mediator will not tell the parties what to do but it can be beneficial in some cases to negotiate future arrangements for the children involved and to reach an out of Court settlement.
There are instances where mediation is not held to be appropriate, and in those cases it is for the mediator to sign the relevant forms to say why an exemption applies. This could be when the other party is unwilling to attend mediation. Alternatively, if there are safety concerns due to a history of domestic violence. Unfortunately, a Court Order is sometimes the only way to reach a resolution in these matters. A Child Arrangement Order decides who the child is to live with or spend time with. This can be granted to more than one person even if they do not live together. Whilst some Orders will make specific arrangements, other Orders will be more open with detailed arrangements to be made between the parties in the agreement. A failure to comply with the Order may result in the Court specifying that other activities take place.
Our services and how we can assist you
Not understanding the Court process and how to respond to the letters you receive can be unsettling on what is such an emotive issue. Getting advice from a solicitor will help you understand what the likely outcome of the Child Arrangement Order will be. A solicitor could improve the outcome through their understanding of what can be a difficult process for several reasons. It is best to seek legal advice from the outset. Speak to us today and find out how we can assist you.
Our family department is led by John Chuku who has over 20 years of experience handling family cases. If you concerned about how much time you can spend with your children then speak to us. You can book a free initial appointment where we can provide you with tailored advice. Please read our article on separating from your partner also.
T: 01228 739 907