- Page Contents
- What Is A Child Arrangements Order?
- Why Is A Child Arrangements Order Necessary?
- Who Can Apply?
- Mediation For Child Arrangements
- Court Procedures For Child Arrangements Order
- Factors Considered By Court
- How Can We Help?
- How Much We Charge?
- How Much Is The Court Fee?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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 expert team of child arrangements solicitors are specialists in dealing with child arrangements order applications. Our specialist child arrangements solicitors have wealth of knowledge and extensive experience of handling child arrangements order applications. Our highly experienced child arrangements lawyers have successfully helped a large number of clients with their child arrangements order applications.
Need legal help and assistance for your child arrangements order application? Contact our expert team of child arrangements lawyers in London, Manchester and Birmingham for fast, friendly, reliable, and fixed fee legal services for your child arrangements order application. Ask a question to our expert team of child arrangements solicitors for free child arrangements order advice.
A Child Arrangements Order is a Court Order that sets out details of who is responsible for the care of a child. This type of Court Order is usually used in cases where the parents cannot agree between them how to split the care of their child/children.
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.
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.
Certain categories of people are entitled to make an application for a child arrangements order under Section 8 without having to seek permission from the court first, and they are:
- the parent, guardian or special guardian of a child;
- any person who has parental responsibility;
- anyone who holds a residence order in respect of the child;
- any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family;
- anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years;
- anyone who has obtained the consent of:
- the local authority if the child is in their care; or
- everyone who has parental responsibility for the child.
Other people can make an application to the court for permission to issue an application for a child arrangements order. It is usually via this route that wider family members such as grandparents are able to apply for orders in respect of their grandchildren. In deciding whether to give permission the court will take into account, among other things:
- the nature of the application;
- the applicant’s connection with the child; and
- the risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they would be harmed by it.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014, before making an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order (or other relevant family application), a prospective applicant must attend a family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (‘MIAM’), to ascertain whether the issues can be resolved by mediation rather than by application to court.
This does not apply where:
- There is evidence of domestic violence;
- There are child protection concerns;
- The application must be heard urgently because delays would, for example, risk the safety of the child or the applicants, cause miscarriages of justice or hardship to the applicant;
- There has been previous MIAM attendance or a MIAM exemption; or
- Circumstances mean that MAIM attendance may not be a reasonable or appropriate requirement.
It is the responsibility of the prospective applicant or that person's legal representative to contact a family mediator to arrange attendance at a MIAM.
The child arrangements order application is made usig 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 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 on-going 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.
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.
The Court will consider the following:
- The primary consideration is to the welfare of any children;
- The wishes and feelings of the child concerned;
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision;
- The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics that will be relevant to the court’s decision;
- Any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering;
- The capability of the child’s parents (or other relevant people) in meeting the child’s needs;
- The powers available to the court;
- The court will also consider if making no order is suitable in the circumstances.
Our team of divorce & family law solicitors can provide help for parents who are struggling with a custodial dispute, whether or not they end up going to court for a child arrangements order. our team of divorce & family law solicitors can provide advice and advocacy, help with drafting legal documents and agreements, and other tasks. For example, a solicitor can:
- Provide legal advice for a parent who is trying to reach a custody agreement with an ex-spouse or partner;
- Provide legal advice for a grandparent or other relative who needs to seek the court’s permission to apply for an arrangement order;
- Provide legal advice during the mediation process;
- Help fill in forms and prepare legal documents required during the process of applying for and obtaining the order, and file the appropriate documents with the court;
- Prepare and send to the court the application for a child arrangements order, and arrange for the order to be served on the other parent or guardian;
- Prepare evidence and supplemental information for subsequent hearings, to ensure the courts have all the information they need to make a decision.
Our Fixed Fees For Child Arrangement Order
Our fixed fees for various stages of the child arrangement order are given in the table below. The agreed fixed fee will be dependent on the volume of work involved in the case and the complexity of the matter. Please be advised that our fixed fees do not cover the Barrister's fees.
|Casework Stage||Fixed Fee Range (Acting For The Applicant)||Fixed Fee Range (Acting For The Respondent)|
||From £700 + VAT To £1,200 + VAT||From £600 + VAT To £1,000 + VAT|
|Interim Hearing (if listed)||From £500 + VAT To £800 + VAT||From £500 + VAT To £800 + VAT|
|Fact Finding Hearing (if listed)||From £2,000 + VAT To £3,000 + VAT||From £2,000 + VAT To £3,000 + VAT|
|Dispute Resolution Hearing / Early Final Hearing||From £2,000 + VAT To £3,000 + VAT||From £2,000 + VAT To £3,000 + VAT|
Preparation for Final Heaaring which includes the following:
|From £3,000 + VAT To £4,000 + VAT||From £3,000 + VAT To £4,000 + VAT|
Our Hourly Rates For Child Arrangement Order
- Our child arrangements solicitors can act for your matter on hourly rate basis with hourly rate from £150 + VAT to £250 + VAT per hour in relation to your child arrangements order application. The agreed hourly rate will be dependent on the complexity of the matter.
- The court fee for filing child arrangements order application in the family court is £215 which has to be paid at the time of filing the application. Petitioners with very low income may qualify for court fee exemption.