If you separate from your partner, you might need a Child Arrangements Order which will set out where your child will live and how much time your child will spend with each parent. Here are five important things you should know about these orders:
1. Each Child Arrangements Order Is Unique
Each Order will be decided on the circumstances of that particular family, and takes into account what will be in the best interest of the child or children. Child Arrangements Orders are ratified in the court by a judge or magistrate, but they will encourage both parties to try to reach an agreement (if there are no concerns about the child’s welfare) first. Only if an agreement cannot be reached will the judge or magistrate make the order, and they will always put the welfare and wishes of the child first.
2. Child Arrangements Orders Can Be Varied
Over time, things change, and because of this it may be necessary to change the terms of the Order. If both parties are in agreement about the change, then they are legally allowed to depart from its terms. However, if you want the changes to be legally binding, the Order must be formally varied by the court. To do this, you apply for a variation from the court, demonstrating that the changes will be in the child’s best interests.
3. Sanctions Can Be Made For A Breach
If one party isn’t complying with the order, then the other party can apply to the court for an Enforcement Order. They will need to show that the other person has failed to comply beyond reasonable doubt (without a reasonable excuse). The court can decide if a sanction is necessary, and that sanction could be a warning, fine, community service or a prison sentence.
4. Child Arrangements Orders Aren’t Just For Parents
Anyone can apply for an Order, and anyone named in an Order shares parental responsibility for the child. Is not unusual for family members such as grandparents to apply for Child Arrangements Orders.
5. Orders Last Until A Child Is 16
Or, in some exceptional circumstances, until the child is 18. After the Order has ceased, the child will be able to decide how much contact they have with the parent they do not live with. Generally, the part of the Order that decides who a child should live with is valid until they are 18, but this is very rarely enforced if the child has decided otherwise.
Applying For An Order
Child Arrangements Orders can be complex and, because they involve children, emotionally difficult to organise. At Beeston Shenton, our family law team understands that these circumstances can be distressing, which is why our approach is always caring and sensitive. We want the best for you and your family, and with our sympathetic and passionate approach we will support you through your Child Arrangements Orders proceedings. Contact us today to see how we can help you.