Child Arrangement Orders
Child Arrangement Orders
What used to be called “Residence” and “Contact” are now called Child Arrangements Orders. You can now have a Child Arrangements Order that a child or children reside with a specified parent and a Child Arrangements Order that a child spend time (or have contact with) a specified parent. The Children’s Act states that a child’s welfare is of paramount consideration when the Court considers any question in relation to the upbringing of a child.
The Court applies what is known as the Welfare Checklist to help reach its decision. The factors taken into account are as follows:
- Wishes and feelings considered in light of the child’s age and understanding
- Physical, emotional and educational needs
- Age, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court considers relevant
- The likely effect of any change in the child’s circumstances
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each parent is in meeting the child’s needs
Usually at the first hearing, the parties are encouraged to reach an agreement if possible. This is called an FHDRA (First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment). An independent child and family officer (CAFCASS officer) will often be present at the appointment to assist the District Judge and indeed the parties in reaching an agreement. If no agreement can be reached and if there are welfare issues to consider, the CAFCASS officer may be directed to prepare a report on the issue of the Child Arrangements orders that are being sought or that should apply.
Directions may also be made for the filing of evidence by the parties to assist the court in making its decision at a final hearing.
It can take up to 12 weeks for the CAFCASS report to be prepared and therefore the next hearing may not be listed until approximately three to four months after the first appointment. The next hearing is called a DRA (Dispute Resolution Appointment) where it is hoped that final orders can be made with the consent of both parties and taking into account the recommendations of the CAFCASS report (if one has been ordered).
Usually parties are able to agree on the arrangements for the children upon considering the CAFCASS report thus avoiding the emotional strain and costs of a contested hearing, but not always.
We do strongly advise to obtain legal advice to ensure you get things right. This not only impacts you but impacts the lives of your children and you want to ensure that you achieve the best outcome possible.
We offer a range of packages to suit every budget and level of service required. We offer a consultation only package, an advice only package, a basic representation package and a premium representation package which offers a comprehensive end to end service, removing all the stress from the process for you, and minimising the risk of your application being refused.
To find out how we can help you, book a call now with a member of our team. The calendar shows a range of dates and times available you can book a call for free to discuss your matter and learn more about how we can help you.