Child arrangement order solicitors

Child arrangements are one of the biggest challenges facing parents who are divorcing or separating. Our solicitors can help you to agree on child arrangement orders yourselves, and we can make your agreement legally binding through a consent order if you wish. If you are in dispute about arrangements for your children, we can apply for a child arrangements order to be put in place.

How can you agree on child arrangements?

If possible, it is best to sit down with your ex-partner and decide on child arrangements together. You could record these in a parenting plan.  

Your plan might include:  

  • Who your children will live with and when they will see the other parent. 
  • Who else your children will spend time with. 
  • How childcare will be shared between you. 
  • Where your children will go to school. 
  • How you will manage decisions about your children’s healthcare/medical treatment and education. 
  • How you will share information with each other and keep lines of communication open. 

Our solicitors can advise you about what to include in your parenting plan based upon your family’s circumstances.  

Do you need a consent order?

A parenting plan is not a legally binding document. However, you could make it legally binding for your peace of mind by turning it into a consent order. Our solicitors can help you to decide what to include in a consent order and draft a consent order for you.

Once a consent order is drafted, your solicitor will submit it to court for a judge to approve. A judge will approve your consent order if they believe it is appropriate and in the best interests of your children.

When might you need a child arrangements order?

If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on child arrangements, then you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This will set out where your children will live, when they will spend time with each parent and other practical arrangements.

It is assumed that it is in children’s best interest to maintain contact with both parents unless there are safeguarding concerns.

A child arrangements order is effective until a child is 18 years old.

How do you apply to the court for a child arrangements order?

Our solicitors can prepare the paperwork to apply for a child arrangements order on your behalf. It is important that paperwork is filled in accurately to avoid delays.

Once the court receives your application, they will serve papers to the other parent and send a copy to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). CAFCASS will then conduct police and social services checks on you and your ex-partner so they can brief the judge.

Your case will then be heard at a First Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA). The judge’s decision at the hearing will be mostly based on the information they have received from CAFCASS. In complex situations, more information is needed for the judge to reach a decision, and further court hearings may take place. The length of time it takes to receive a child arrangements order varies depending upon your situation.

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Davisons child arrangement order solicitors

Agreeing on child arrangements when you are divorcing or separating can be difficult and emotionally fraught. Our solicitors know that emotions are equally as important as practical arrangements.

If you need support to agree child arrangements with your ex-partner please talk to us. We have extensive experience in helping parents negotiate arrangements that are in the best interests of their children. Should you need to apply to court for a child arrangements order, we will support and guide you throughout the process.

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Child arrangements FAQs

Who can apply for a child arrangements order?

Anyone with parental responsibility for a child can apply for a child arrangements order. All birth mothers have parental responsibility and so do fathers who were married to their child’s mother when the child was born. Unmarried fathers have parental responsibility if they are named on their child’s birth certificate.

Other extended family members such as grandparents or step-parents can also apply for a child arrangements order, but they have to apply to the court for permission first. The court will consider the applicant’s relationship with the child and whether granting a child arrangements order is in the child’s best interests.

What happens if a parent deviates from a child arrangements order?

A child arrangements order is legally binding. If a parent breaches an order, they could receive a fine or, rarely, a prison sentence.

If you are experiencing a child arrangements order breach, keep a diary of all the breaches that take place as this is evidence. Before you take legal steps, try to resolve the issue by talking to the other parent yourself if you can.

If you cannot resolve the issue with your ex-partner, our solicitors can negotiate with their solicitors on your behalf or support you through mediation. Mediation involves an independent mediator facilitating discussions between you and your ex-partner so you may reach an agreement.

Sometimes it is not possible to resolve a dispute without going to court. In this case, our solicitors can apply to the court on your behalf to have the child arrangements order enforced. It is up to the party who has not complied with the order to demonstrate that they acted with justifiable reason.

If you need advice about enforcing a child arrangements order, our dedicated family solicitors can help you.

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