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.

Contents Table

Specialist Child Arrangements Solicitors
Why is a Child Arrangements Order Necessary?
Who Can Apply For A Child Arrangements Order?
Requirement to Attend A Mediation Information And Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Court Procedure For Child Arrangements Order
What Factors Are Considered By Judge In Making A Child Arrangements Order?
How Can We Help?
How Much We Charge?
How Much Is The Court Fee?
Need Help? Book An Appointment
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Specialist Child Arrangements Solicitors

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.

Why is a Child Arrangements Order Necessary?

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.

Who Can Apply For A Child Arrangements Order?

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.

Requirement to Attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

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.

Court Procedure For Child Arrangements Order

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.

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.

What Factors Are Considered By Judge In Making 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.

How Can Help We Help With Child Arrangements Order Application?

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.

How Much Sunrise Solicitors Charge For Child Arrangements Order?

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)
  • preparing and filing child arrangement order application (C100 Application);
  • attending the court the initial court hearing called First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment.
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

Final Hearing

Preparation for Final Heaaring which includes the following:

  • complying with court directions;
  • preparing any witness statements;
  • instructing and briefing the Barrister for the court hearing;
  • attending any pre-hearing conference with the barrister, where necessary;
  • making necessary preparations for the final hearing;
  • attending the family court for Final Hearing to assist the Barrister in the case.
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 £120 + VAT to £200 + VAT per hour in relation to your child arrangements order application. The agreed hourly rate will be dependent on the complexity of the matter.

How Much Is The Court Fee For Child Arrangements Order?

  • 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.

FAQs - Child Arrangements Order

What is a child arrangements order?

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.

How can I apply for child arrangements order?

You can apply for child arrangements order by completing application form C100 online.

Am I required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before applying for child arrangements order to the family court?

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. As part of our legal services, our child arrangements lawyers will refer you to a family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (‘MIAM’) and thus try to get the child arrangements issues resolved without the need for an application to family court for child arrangements order.

 

How much does a Child Arrangements Order Cost?

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.

The costs of legal advice and support will depend on the complexity of your case and whether agreement can be reached at an early stage, or the case goes all the way through to a final hearing.

Our Fixed Fees For Child Arrangement Order

Our fixed fees for various stages of the child arrangement order are given in the fee 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. Click Here to check our fixed fee for child arrangement order.

Our Hourly Rates For Child Arrangement Order

  • Our child arrangements solicitors can act for your matter on hourly rate basis with hourly rate from £120 + VAT to £200 + VAT per hour in relation to your child arrangements order application. The agreed hourly rate will be dependent on the complexity of the matter.

What factors are considered by the family court judge in making 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.

Who has the parental responsibility as a result of a child arrangements order?

A person named in the Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to live, will have Parental Responsibility for the child while the Order remains in force. Where a person is named in the Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to spend time or otherwise have contact, but is not named in the Order as a person with whom the child is to live, the Family Court may also provide in the Order for that person to have Parental Responsibility for the child while the Order remains in force.

Can I change my Child Arrangements Order?

It is possible to vary the Child Arrangements Order once it has been issued by the family court. If the variation can’t be agreed with the other party directly, then a further application to the family court will have to be made whereby a procedure similar to the initial application will be followed. The Court will need to reassess the facts to see what has changed to justify amending the child arrangements Order before deciding on what is in the child’s best interests.

Parents can still make agreements to the child’s care outside of the Order, as most Orders will provide for changes to arrangements by agreement. However, these are usually one-off arrangements and if a wholesale change is to be made, then it’s better to vary the Order formally to ensure it can be enforced.

How long does a Child Arrangements Order last?

The Child Arrangements Order will last until the child is 16, or in some exceptional circumstances, until 18. If you reconcile with your ex-partner and move back in together, then the Child Arrangements Order will cease after you’ve lived together for six months.

How long does it take to get a Child Arrangements Order?

Applications to the Family Court for Child Arrangements Order follow a standard procedure; however this can be adapted by the Family Court to suit the needs of your case. In any event, you should not expect your Child Arrangements Order case to be resolved immediately. Sometimes, cases can go on for a period of several months.

Can a child apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

A child cannot apply to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order.

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.

 

 

What is a 'Specific Issue Order'?

A ‘specific issue order’ is used to look at a specific question about how the child is being brought up, for example:

  • what school they go to
  • if they should have a religious education

You can also apply for a ‘prohibited steps order’ to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing.

What is Cafcass report for Child arrangements Order?

A Cafcas officer is a amily court adviser from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass). The court can ask Cafcass to provide a report on your case to help decide what’s best for the child. Cafcass report is also known as Section 7 report. 

A Cafcass officer will prepare this report after meeting with both parties and the child (alone where possible and only If the child has sufficient maturity and understanding). You’ll get a copy of the report when it’s written.

How can I ask the court to enforce the Child Arrangements Order?

If your ex-partner is not following the Child Arrangements Order, you can apply to the Family Court for enforcement of the Order by using appliation form form C79 with appropriate court fee. The court will look at the facts again to see if anything has changed.

If the court enforces the order

Depending on your situation and what you’ve asked the court to decide they might make:

  • an ‘enforcement order’ - this means your ex-partner has to do between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work
  • an ‘order for compensation for financial loss’ - this means your ex-partner has to pay back any money you’ve lost because they did not follow the order (for example if you missed a holiday)

You can go back to the court if your ex-partner still does not do as the court ordered.

If the court does not enforce the order

The court might not enforce the existing order if they think that your ex-partner is not following it because:

  • they have a good reason
  • it’s better for your children to do something different

You can go back to the court if you do not agree with their decision or your situation changes.

How can I end a Child Arrangements Order?

You can use application form C100 apply to the family court to end (discharge) a Child Arrangements Order that’s not working, or is not relevant to you and your children any more.

If your order ends at a fixed time (‘time-limited’), you can make your own Child Arrangements Agreement afterwards without mutual consent and without involving the court. 

What is the Family Court procedure for a Child Arrangements Order?

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.

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.

What happens at a Child Arrangements Order hearing?

There will normally be more than one court hearings for the Child Arrangements Order and each hearing is slightly different. At the first hearing, the family court will be focused on understanding what issues are in dispute and working out the next steps to take before a decision is taken. The court will try to encourage the parties to resolve the matter by agreement. If this is the case the court will convert the agreement into a consent order and this will end the case.

If agreement cannot be reached and the case progresses, further court hearings may be required at which the court may consider evidence from CAFCASS and the more detailed facts of the case. This could include a Fact Finding Hearing or a Dispute Resolution or Review Hearing. It is usual for both parents to give evidence if the case proceeds to a Fact Finding Hearing. A significant amount of information will be gathered for a final hearing and both parents will usually give evidence at that hearing along with CAFCASS or other experts, if involved.

Can a grandparent apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

It is not completely uncommon for grandparents to apply for a child arrangements order in order to see their grandchildren following the divorce or separation of their parents. Grandparents however need to go through an additional stage, before they apply for a Child Arrangements Order. They need permission from the court to make a Child Arrangements Order application.

Once permission has been granted, a grandparent will then need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. When making an application for a Child Arrangements Order, a grandparent will need to show to the family court that they have tried to resolve matters through mediation (or another means of alternate dispute resolution). If a grandparent has not already attended mediation, they must do so before making an application for Child Arrangements Order. If mediation is unsuccessful or otherwise deemed to be unnecessary or unsuitable, the mediator will complete a “MIAM certificate” which will enable a grandparent to proceed with an application for a Child Arrangements Order. Once an application is made to the family court for a Child Arrangements Order, a grandparent could be required to attend three hearings to finally determine matters, unless suitable contact arrangements can be agreed in the meantime.

Generally speaking, there is no presumption in favour of grandparents to have contact with their grandchild(ren), however, Thorpe LJ in Re J (a child) [2002] EWCA Civ 1346 recognised the “valuable contributions” grandparents make. This has also been recognised by the government with proposed plans to introduce shared parental leave for grandparents.

What is an 'Interim Child Arrangements Order'?

An Intermim Child Arrangements Order is a temporary Order, put in place for example to return the child to the care of one parent or to make sure some contact is taking place, while further court hearings take place. The term interim order refers to an order issued by a court during the pendency of the litigation. 

Divorce & Family Law News

No-fault divorce to start in autumn 2021

Couples seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait until autumn 2021 even though proposed legislation removing fault from the divorce process has reached the finishing line of its parliamentary journey.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill concluded its passage through the House of Commons yesterday. It will return to the House of Lords to consider an amendment before receiving Royal assent. However, lord chancellor Robert Buckland told MPs that the bill’s reforms will not come into force on Royal assent ‘because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation’.
Buckland said: ‘At this early stage, we are working towards an indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021.’

However, family lawyers are delighted to see the bill reach the end of its parliamentary journey. The Law Society said ‘no-fault’ divorce will bring divorce law into the 21st century.
Jo Edwards, head of family at London firm Forsters, said: ‘Along with most family lawyers, and indeed the general public, I was thrilled to see the bill conclude its passage in parliament this week after 30 years of campaigning by Resolution and others and, in recent years, many false starts. Despite vocal last-minute attempts by some backbench MPs to derail the bill, we finally have the prospect of a more civilised, dignified divorce process fit for the 21st century.

‘The fact that couples will be able to petition for divorce jointly is a hugely important step symbolically and the introduction of a minimum overall timeframe shows that this is not the "quickie divorce" that some have suggested.  Because the detail of the rules around the new process, as well as court forms and the online portal, will need to be looked at in light of the new legislation, it is not likely that no-fault divorces will be a reality in England and Wales until late 2021 or even early 2022. For the 100,000 or so couples who divorce each year, they can't come a day too soon.’ READ MORE FROM SOURCE

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