Child Arrangement Order Solicitors in Manchester and Stockport
A Child Arrangement Order is an agreement under English family law that states where a child should live or spend time as well as who the child has contact with. Child Arrangement Orders are typically required after the breakdown of a relationship and substitute 'contact orders' and 'residence orders.’
Why choose Clifford Johnston & Co?
Based in Greater Manchester, our clients come from all over the North West, England, and Wales for our outstanding reputation in supporting clients through Child Arrangement Orders.
At Clifford Johnston, there is always someone who can offer help. Our knowledgeable and empathetic solicitors have extensive experience in helping clients in the same situation as you. We understand that this can be a stressful time and will be with you every step of the way to offer advice as well as practical assistance.
Get in touch today - our reliable and compassionate advisors will discuss your case with sympathy and understanding.
Why is a Child Arrangements Order Needed?
Divorced or separated parents may find it difficult to decide on matters relating to child arrangements, particularly if the separation has been a bitter one. If parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, one or both parents can request a Child Arrangement Order from the court. This order will instruct where and who the child lives with, when and where they have contact with a non-resident parent and any other significant issues related to the child’s welfare.
Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?
In general, a Child Arrangements Order is requested and allowed when the child’s parent is divorcing or ending their long-term relationship. Occasionally one of the parents may not be a biological parent and maybe a guardian or other relative. For instance, the grandparents of a child might request for a Child Arrangement Order if one or both of the child’s parents has passed away or if a parent is unable to look after a child, or if the grandparents are being denied contact with grandchildren. If you have any questions or concerns about a child arrangements issue, call our experienced Child Arrangement Solicitors today for advice relevant to your specific circumstances.
The people who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order are - A parent, guardian, or special guardians, anybody who presently has parental responsibility for the child(ren), someone in a marriage or civil partnership (regardless of if they are the biological parent), someone who has a residence order in respect of the child, or who has lived with the child for over three years.
In brief, anybody who has a parental obligation for the child can apply, even when they aren’t a biological parent. Others who want to pursue a Child Arrangements Order can do so when they first apply to the court for permission.
How can a Solicitor Help with a Child Arrangements Order?
Our family law solicitors will be able to provide realistic advice to a parent or others with an interest in child arrangements and will try to negotiate a resolution or encourage family mediation, where child arrangements have not been agreed. If agreement cannot be reached, then they will advise on the commencement of proceedings in the Family Court as a last resort.
Our solicitors will be on hand to give legal advice during the mediation process as well as support when completing forms and essential legal documents for the process of attaining the order. You’ll get help filing the suitable documents direct to the court and your solicitor will coordinate the order to be fulfilled on the other parent or guardian. They will also plan additional evidence for subsequent hearings, to ensure the courts receive all the information needed.
The Child Arrangements Order Process
If a relationship breaks down with children involved, the parents will hopefully reach agreement over child arrangements, in which case there won’t be a need to obtain a court order in the majority of cases, the possible exception being where there has been a history of agreements breaking down. However, parents can’t always agree on these terms themselves, and this is when the parties are likely to benefit from legal assistance.
When parents can’t agree they will be encouraged to try to work things out through family mediation. This begins with one or both parties attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), which any party wanting to start a court application will have to go through first, unless certain exemptions apply. If the mediator thinks the case is suitable for mediation, then the other party will also be invited to attend a MIAM, and after this, if they are both willing, arrangements will be made for mediation to take place, to see if they can reach a compromise over child arrangements, and therefore avoid having to go through contested court proceedings.
If the mediator doesn’t believe mediation will enable the parents to settle their dispute—or if they attempt mediation and don’t come to terms of an agreement—the next step is to request to the court for a Child Arrangements Order.
Applying to the Court
When a parent or guardian requests a Child Arrangement Order, the court will hold a dispute resolution hearing, attended by an officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). The hearing is mediated by Magistrates or a Judge, and both parents/guardians are required to attend. The CAFCASS officer will be there to help the court at this hearing. It’s the Magistrates’ job to find an outcome that reflects what is best for the child(ren).
Further hearings may include steps such as filing evidence and calling witnesses for statements. An officer of the CAFCASS may become involved at this stage as someone who is appointed to be an impartial advisor to the court and convey the child’s views to the court. Finally, the court examines all of the evidence and statements that have been made to come to an arrangement.
What do the Courts Consider when making a Child Arrangements Order?
The Child Arrangement Order considers the child’s interests above all. The main intent of the order is to make sure that the child’s wellbeing is the top priority. The courts consider several factors including the child’s feelings and needs, if the child has experienced any form of abuse or neglect or is in danger, the parent’s or guardian’s ability to meet the child’s needs, and the impact the order will have on the child.
What can be included in a Child Arrangements Order?
The most frequently covered issues are to do with whom the child will live, how much time they will spend with the non-resident parent, and whether there should be any other contact such as through video calls. The court can also deal with Specific Issues, such as what school the child should attend, whether certain medical procedures should be carried out, and in what religious faith, if any, the child should be raised. The court can also be asked to consider making a Prohibited Steps Order, to prevent a child being taken abroad, or from being exposed to any particular influences or people which might cause the child harm. The range of issues is extremely wide and if you are concerned about something to do with the way in which your child is being parented you should take legal advice to find out the best way of dealing with the problem.
Contact Our Child Law Solicitors Today
We regularly help local families with all matters relating to child custody and residence so for professional, confidential advice contact us today.
Our friendly team will deal with your enquiry sensitively and with understanding, so contact us today for helpful and supportive advice.
With offices in Stockport (Heaton Moor) & Manchester (Burnage), our expert family solicitors are easily accessible. We represent clients not only locally and throughout Stockport, Cheshire, Lancashire & Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. You can count on us to help and guide you whatever your challenge or circumstance.