What is a Child Arrangement Order?
A Child Arrangement Order is a court order which states where a child will live and when they spend time with either parent if the parents are separating or entering a divorce. Furthermore, a Child Arrangement Order usually regulates the types of contact allowed between a child and each parent, such as phone or video calls, visits etc.
What is a Prohibited Steps Order?
A Prohibited Steps Order is a Court Order used by one parent to stop another parent from making certain decisions about their child’s upbringing. This can include removing the child from school or the other parents care, preventing relocation of the child’s residence etc.
A Prohibited Steps Order can be made on an urgent basis and can, in some circumstances, be made without notice to the other parent in some circumstances. A prohibited steps order is often made alongside a child arrangements order.
What is a Specific Issue Order?
A Specific Issue Order is a court order used to settle a dispute between parents where no agreement can be reached and can include decisions such as where your child goes to school, what religion they follow, medical treatment etc. Specific Issue Orders are often made alongside Child Arrangements Orders.
How much does a Child Arrangement Order cost?
To apply for a Child Arrangement Order in England or Wales, you will need to pay a non-refundable court fee of £232 in addition to any legal fees for your child arrangement order solicitor.
What is the process of applying for a Child Arrangement Order?
You can apply for a Child Arrangement Order online or via postal mail using a paper form. Before you can apply, you will usually be required to attend a MIAM (or Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting).
If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner or former spouse, applying for a court order will be the next step. You may be exempt from having to attend a MIAM if your case involves domestic abuse or if you’ve chosen to apply for a consent order.
Applications are usually made by giving notice to the other party notice; in exceptional circumstances, court orders can be made without notice or short notice.
Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?
Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. In England and Wales, birth mothers will automatically receive parental responsibility, as will fathers married to the birth mothers and fathers registered on the birth certificate. You may also have been granted parental responsibility via an adoption order. Other individuals such as grandparents or family members can also apply but need the permission of the court beforehand.
How long does it take to get a Child Arrangement Order?
Once your application has been received, the court will instruct Cafcass to carry out initial safeguarding checks and to speak to both parties to obtain their positions. Once the court receives the safeguarding letter from Cafcass, they will invite both parents to an initial hearing, i.e. a ‘direction hearing’ during which a judge or magistrate will decide on points you agree and disagree on. They will also assess whether your child is at risk of domestic violence, abuse etc.
The court may arrange a meeting with a mediator if both parents cannot come to an agreement during the direction hearing.
Each parent may also be invited to attend the Separated Parents Information Programme. If you still cannot reach an agreement following the course, the court may order a written report with Cafcass to decide your case. To complete the report, your child may be interviewed and questioned by Cafcass about their feelings (Gov.uk).
Does a Child Arrangement Order expire?
In England and Wales, a Child Arrangement Order usually lasts until a child turns 18.