Things to know before applying for a Child Arrangements Order

Posted 16th June 2015

Written by Newtons Family Team

Divorce rates in the UK are high and continue to rise.

This means that there are now a significant number of children growing up in single parent households. However, a divorce settlement between the parents should not automatically lead to a physical separation between the children and the non-resident parent. It is important that both parents continue to play an active role within the child’s life.

The focal point of any Hearing will be the welfare of the child or children involved. Before embarking on a an application in relation to children, it is important to seek professional advice from a solicitor experienced in family law.

A Court application is not something to be entered into easily. Before applying to court, each party should consider the significant emotional impact going to court will have on all those involved.  It is a requirement to attend mediation beforehand.

Courts will refer to the legal framework provided by The Children Act 1989. The principles of the Act are as follows:

  • The welfare of the child will take priority over all other matters
  • Children have a legal right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents and their extended family wherever possible.
  • The wishes of the child must be considered where age allows.
  • Any hearing will begin with the premise that children are best cared for by their own families.
  • Court orders should be avoided wherever possible.
  • Delays should be minimal.
  • Discretion and flexibility – there should be a wide degree of flexibility afforded to the courts. The court must judge each case on its own individual merits.

It is important to realise that an order set by the court is a legal document to which each party must comply. It will include a warning to each party about the consequence of non-compliance, which may include a fine, retraction of the order, or even a custodial sentence.

It is acknowledged, however, that over time, circumstances may change and an order may need to be adjusted or reviewed. It is therefore usually possible for either party to reapply to the court.

If you wish to discuss these or any other family law issues, please contact the Family Team at Newtons Solicitors.  We offer a first class approach to what can be a difficult and upsetting time.  Please note we also offer a free half an hour confidential appointment and can be flexible when needed.  We have car parking and wheelchair access.