As lockdown lifts and parents begin to turn their minds to summer holiday plans, we have noticed an increase in enquiries about Child Arrangements Orders.
Some separated couples already have orders in place, which are not being adhered to, while others rely on informal arrangements, which are beginning to break down.
Clarity about who a child will spend time with and when is crucial to the wellbeing of a child.
So, what is a Child Arrangements Order and could it be suitable for you and your family?
A Child Arrangements Order formalises where your child lives, when he or she spends time with each parent and when and what other types of contacts will take place, for example phone calls.
If you are the child’s mother, father, or if you have parental responsibility for the child, you can apply for a court order. Other individuals may need to seek permission. Your solicitor can advise you further about this if necessary.
The first thing to say is that a Child Arrangements Order is usually only necessary where parents cannot mutually agree the arrangements for their child. The court will only make an order if it feels that doing so is in the best interest of your child.
If you and your ex-partner cannot agree arrangements for your child or where there are welfare concerns, a Child Arrangements Order may be necessary.
In most cases, you will be expected to demonstrate that you have attended mediation prior to making an application to try to resolve your differences before the court will consider an application.
If you already have a Child Arrangements Order, but one party is not adhering to its terms, or if the order needs to be reviewed in light of a change of circumstances, you will need to speak to a family solicitor for guidance on the appropriate next steps to take.