A Child Arrangements Order regulates the arrangements for the children to live with and/or spend time both parents.
Prior to issuing an application it is always advisable to try reach an agreement without the need for Court intervention. This can be done through negotiations and/or the process of family mediation There are some circumstances whereby mediation would not be appropriate or there could be an exemption. However in the event there is nothing to prevent mediation taking place, the law requires that you attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting with an accredited family mediator. Mediation is a constructive and cost effective method of resolving issues with the mediator helping you to focus upon your children and putting in place practical arrangements which are workable for your family.
If an agreement is reached in mediation then it is possible to apply to Court for an order to be made by consent to formalise arrangements.
If is not possible to reach an agreement or there are urgent and/or issues of a safeguarding nature then you may need to apply to Court for the Court’s assistance to make the decisions you believe are right and needed for your children.
The first priority of the Court is always the child/ren and their welfare and what is in their best interests. The Court will use the Welfare Checklist to make their decisions and will have regard for:
(a)the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b) physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c) the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
(d) age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
(e) any harm suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f)how capable each parent is, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs;
(g)the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.
Prior to making decisions that Court may require the input of other professionals, for example CAFCASS, the Children and Family Court Advisory Service.
Obtaining a Child Arrangements Order is not a quick process save in emergency situations when interim orders can be sought. Therefore if you foresee issues for example with summer holidays, school places it is important to take action well in advance.
If an agreement cannot be reached at Court, the Court will ultimately make a Final Order. There are however usually a number of hearings before you get to this point.
Obtaining specialist legal advice and support is crucial. We are experts in our field and we can help you to obtain the best possible outcome for you and your children.
Should you wish for a free half hour consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01274 861096 (Liversedge Office) or 01423 637272 (Harrogate Office) firstname.lastname@example.org