When two parents are getting divorced, or at the end of their relationship, there should always be discussions to ensure their child(ren)’s needs and living arrangements are taken care of. These arrangements can be recorded in a parenting plan. However, as these are not legally binding, some parents wish for the arrangements to be made into a child arrangements order.
A child arrangements order can be made by consent if both parents agree to the arrangements for their child(ren) and the court also agree it is in the child(ren)’s best interest to make such an order. Alternatively, an order can be made by the court when parents cannot reach an agreement and the court feels the child(ren) would benefit from having such an order made.
In this post, we’ll provide you with a more in-depth look at child arrangements orders and also what a Family Mediator’s role is during this process.
Who Can Apply for a Child Arrangements Order?
A child arrangements order is usually applied for and granted when parents are divorcing, ending a relationship or when they cannot agree with the parenting arrangements. However, in some cases, one of the parents may not be a biological parent or can be a guardian or other related caregiver (such as grandparents).
Not everyone can apply for child arrangements orders. Those deemed to be acceptable would be:
- A parent or guardian
- Anyone who currently has parental responsibility for the children.
- Someone in a marriage or civil partnership where the children are a child of the family (this doesn’t have to be a biological parent).
- Anyone with a residence order who lives with the child, or has lived with the child for three years or longer.
Anyone else who wishes to pursue a child arrangements order can only do so with the court’s permission. To submit the order, you need to complete a Form C100 – which you can download from our site.
What Is Considered by the Court for a Child Arrangements Order?
The courts are legally obligated to consider the child(ren)’s best interests above all else when making any order. They may consult with other professionals and ask for reports to help them decide. The whole process ensures the welfare of any child(ren) involved is given the highest consideration — above anything else. In making a decision, courts consider several different factors:
- The wishes and opinions of the child(ren).
- The child(ren)’s emotional and physical needs and educational requirements.
- If the child(ren) has sustained any abuse or neglect or is vulnerable in this regard.
- The ability of the parents or guardians to cater to the child(ren)’s needs.
- How the enforcement of a child arrangements order will impact their life.
What Conditions Can a Child Arrangements Order Include?
A child arrangements order usually specifies a variety of conditions about where children will live and who they will have contact with. Possible stipulations can include:
- Where the child will sleep on which nights of the week.
- What other forms of communication the child(ren) will have with their parents, such as phone calls, text messages, emails and social media.
- What arrangements can be put in place for holidays, Christmas and other important dates in the family calendar?
- Where the child(ren) will see their parents and how pick-ups and drop-offs will be arranged.
What Is the Role of a Mediator?
To submit an application for a Child Arrangements Order, most applicants will need to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (a MIAM). This can then lead to the mediation process. At Mediate UK, we offer a professional and efficient service that sets up mediation and allows you to either go directly to the court or to mediate an agreement between you both, with our expert help. Any agreement reached can be made into a legally binding order through the court. We can do this through one of our fixed fee legal packages. If one of you do not wish to mediate, or if mediation breaks down, you can ask the mediator to sign a form C100.
If you both feel it would help the process, we can invite your children to a meeting with the mediator to get their thoughts and feelings heard, similar to the court-appointed CAFCASS service.
Finally, if you feel you need more help as parents, we have teamed up with Kids Come First that can work with you on how you will parent your children while living separately.
Are you looking to apply for a child arrangements order or require more information on how mediation can help with your situation? Get in touch today to discuss your requirements. Or you can schedule a free consultation.