What is a Child Arrangements Order?

Over recent years the terminology for the orders governing where children live and who they spend time with has changed. What was once ‘Custody’ and ‘Access’ became ‘Residence’ and ‘Contact’ Orders. Since 2014, Contact Orders and Residence Orders have been replaced with Child Arrangements Orders. These orders can be obtained from Family Courts if parents can’t agree on the best arrangements for their children or where one, or both, parents want to have their arrangements set out in a formal Court-approved order. 

Different arrangements can apply in different situations and Courts will always seek to make the best possible decisions for children. The best interests of these children will always be the paramount consideration of the court.  

What type of Child Arrangements Orders are available? 

There is a huge variety of arrangements which can be put in place. Where the most serious concerns arise the time children spend with a parent could be restricted, or provided only in a supervised setting such as a contact centre. At the other end of the spectrum there are cases in which the Court considers that the care of children should be shared between their parents. 

There are two main types of Child Arrangements Order: a “live with” order (which replaced Residence Orders), and a “spends time with” order (which replaced Contact Orders).  

“Live with” orders tend to be made to a parent which whom a child spends most of their time and who may be considered their primary carer. “Spends time with” orders are there to make sure a child is able to see a parent and this might include time at weekends, after school or nursery, or overnight stays. Child Arrangements Orders are also used to set out how children spend their time during school holidays which might involve longer periods of contact. 

With permission from the Court, in appropriate circumstances, it is also possible for Grandparents (or other relatives) to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This might occur if the grandparent wishes to spend time with their grandchild, or if the child cannot be looked after by their parent it may become necessary for them to live with another relative. These decisions can be put in place through a Child Arrangements Order. 

Legal advice on Child Arrangements Orders 

Cases regarding your children — or grandchildren — can be emotionally charged and the technicalities and procedures can be complicated. Many people feel more comfortable with the support of a lawyer and it’s important to make sure that if you do take this route you choose someone with the specialist experience needed to give you the best possible advice and representation.  

Our Public Access family Barristers are experienced lawyers and advocates, who can advise you on all aspects of your case and represent you in Court. Our clerks can discuss your particular needs to make sure you are matched with the barrister best able to support you as you make arrangements for your children. 

To get in touch with a member of our team, first read our simple step-by-step guide, then our clerks can advise you on your next steps and put you in touch with the family lawyer best able to accommodate your needs. 

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