A child arrangements order formalises arrangements in relation to children by setting out, for example, who a child should live with, spend time with and have contact with.

If you are the mother, father, step-parent or guardian, you may apply to the courts for a child arrangements order. If you are a grandparent you do not automatically have the right to make an application and must first obtain permission from the court.

When is a child arrangements order necessary?

If separated parents can agree on the arrangements for their children without the need for a child arrangements order, the court will be reluctant to make an order due to the ‘no order principle’. This principle means that the court will not make an order unless they are satisfied that doing so will be better for the child than making no order at all. In other words, it is in the child’s best interests.

A child arrangements order may be suitable where parents cannot mutually agree on arrangements for their children or where there are welfare concerns.

Prior to making an application to the court parties are expected to have attempted mediation to try to resolve these matters, although there are circumstances when mediation is not applicable.

What if a child arrangements order already exists?

If you have an existing order and the terms of this order are no longer viable, or the other parent is not sticking to the terms, the order can be enforced, reviewed or varied by the court.

How long will the order stay in place?

The order remains in force until the child or children reach the age of 16. If a child has additional needs, the court may deem it suitable for an order to remain in force until they are 18 years old.

Dealing with child arrangements orders can be emotive and difficult. If you need advice about applying for or varying an order or any family law matter, contact or phone 01782 205000.