Child Contact & Residence
What is a child arrangement order?
A child arrangement order regulates arrangements for a child that can be for any of the following
Who/when the child is to live with or otherwise have contact
What type of contact to take place
Direct contact between the child and person named in the order
Indirect contact such as letters or cards
What is the process of a child arrangement order?
It is not always possible to reach an agreement about contact with the children or with what parent they should live with. If these decisions are not reached you can apply to the court for an order.
Before you do this, you are required to attend a meeting with a mediator to see whether mediation might be suitable instead of going to court.
The requirement applies unless there are certain exceptions such as issues relating to the safety of the child or domestic violence.
The other party to the proceedings will be encouraged to attend mediation.
An application is made on a court form which sets out the details of all children and adults in the case. The application will then require you to say what orders you are asking the court to make and why.
Will I see my child after the first hearing?
This unfortunately may not always be the case, court hearings can be lengthy and the court will consider a range of factors before determining what is best for the child. The court will always have the child’s best interest in mind. This however does not mean that there will be a long gap in seeing your child, the court could direct other ways of contact such as phone calls video calls then proceeding on to face 2 face contact but in smaller steps.
What happens if I have to go to court?
When the court receives your Application, they will set a time and place for you and the other person involved to have a first court appointment hearing (FHDRA)
The FHDRA is when the court investigates the issues and attempt to settle, if the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the court will identify the outstanding issues and concerns and give directions on how the case should proceed.
An example of orders would be the court could order CAFCASS to prepare a report to assist the judge at the hearings , there could be an order for the parties to prepare witness statements of the evidence.
What is Cafcass?
Children and family court advisory support services (CAFCASS) Are assigned when two parents are in a dispute over child arrangement and have proceeded the matter to court.
Cafcass’ role is to look out for the best interest of the child within family proceedings. Cafcass officers undertake a variety of matters such as background checks on both parents, or any other members important to the case, telephone or in person interviews . the court usually directs Cafcass to prepare a safeguarding letter in preparation for the first hearing. Further down the proceedings the court can order Cafcass to undertake a detailed assessment in order to aid them with the final recommendation when making a decision.
What is parental responsibility?
Parental responsibility is concerned with the care and upbringing of a child until they are grown up. Under the Children Act 1989 parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority that by law a parent has in relation to their child and property
Parental responsibility can include but not limited to:
Providing a home
Protecting and maintaining a child
Contact with the child
Removal out of the jurisdiction
Applying or vetoing childs passport
Representing the child in legal proceedings
Consenting to adoption
Administration of the child’s property
Appointment of a guardian
Burial or cremation of the deceased child
Consent to marriage
Do I have parental responsibility for my child?
If you are the mother you automatically have parental responsibility. If you are a married father you will also have parental responsibility.
Unmarried fathers who are registered on the child’s birth certificate have parental responsibility
In other situations you will not have parental responsibility unless there is a child arrangement order or parental responsibility order or agreement in place.
How long will a child arrangement order last?
A child arrangement order that orders who the child will live with and when will last until the child is 18, unless the court orders an earlier date. A child arrangement order that orders when the child is to have contact with a person will usually end when the child is 16 but in some circumstances can last until the child is 18.
How does the court decide what should happen?
The court is concerned with the child’s welfare. The children Act 1986 Provides a list of considerations for the court to decide the case, this can include:
Wishes and feelings of the child
Child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
Likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision
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 in meeting the child’s needs, and
Powers available to the court
Who can apply for a child arrangement order?
Parent, guardian or special guardian of the child
Step parent who has parental responsibility
Any person in who’s favour a residence order is in force in respect of a child
Any party to a marriage or civil partnership in relation to whom the child is a child of the family
Any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least 3 years.
Why Adam Bernard Solicitors?
Our team of Solicitors has numerous years of experience in handling matters related to child disputes and arrangement orders.
Our experience has ensured that we have developed a sensitive approach to handling such cases that ensures your needs are at the forefront of our considerations and you feel supported throughout the whole process.
The successes of numerous clients that we have ensured achieve the results they desire, evidenced through our client testimonies, shows our ability in navigating this area of law.