Child arrangements orders – when are they necessary?

Child arrangements orders – when are they necessary?

When parents separate (regardless of whether or not they were married), we are often asked “what about the arrangements for the children”?  There are many cases where parents are able to reach an agreement between them that both parties are reasonably content with, meets the needs of the children and is sufficiently flexible to meet the ever changing lives of a busy family.  However, there are occasions when separated parents may need a court order over an informal agreement, which might be reached verbally or in writing.  The following are the most common examples of reasons that a court order,  known as a ‘child arrangements order’, may be necessary:

  1. Despite trying, you simply cannot reach an agreement regarding where the children should live and how often they should spend time with the other parent, and you need the court to intervene to make a decision.
  2. You have reached an agreement, but you do not trust the other parent to keep to the agreement and you think it is necessary for the arrangements to be legally enforceable. It is possible to make an application to court for an agreement to be incorporated into a legally enforceable order, by consent.
  3. In the absence of a court order setting out who a child lives with, it is necessary for each person with parental responsibility to seek the permission of any other person with parental responsibility to remove the child from the country (including for a holiday). This can sometimes cause difficulties at border control, and therefore if your child will be travelling internationally regularly, a court order may be helpful.
  4. If the child is to live with someone other than a parent with parental responsibility, for example a grandparent or aunt / uncle, it may be helpful to have a court order setting out the arrangement.

It is not always a hostile step to make a court application to set out the arrangements for children following separation, and it can be a way if ensuring both parties are clear as to the arrangements, which can build trust between each other.

All of the lawyers in the Family Department at Butcher Andrews are very experienced in children cases, and deal with cases sensitively and amicably.  We are members of Resolution, which focuses on resolving family disputes in a constructive way.

If you are in need of advice regarding the arrangements for your children, then please contact our family team.  We offer a free initial 30 minute appointment at either our office in Holt or Fakenham.  Please email [email protected] or telephone 01328 863131 to arrange an appointment.


Our Family Team

Adney Payne

Julia Buckingham

Kate Jackson

Jean Curtis

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