Child Arrangement Orders: How they work and why you might need one

Whether you are going through a divorce, separation or other family dispute, understanding how a Child Arrangement Order works can help you make informed decisions about your child’s future.

In her latest article, Sarah Lightfoot-Webber outlines how these Orders work, the rights they give you, why you might need one and how to apply.

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) outlines who a child is to live, spend time and have contact with.

It also includes Prohibited Steps Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Orders that vary or discharge any existing CAO.

Why would someone get a Child Arrangement Order?

People mainly get a Child Arrangements Order when they can’t come to an agreement with their separated partner on living and contact arrangements, but also if there is a dispute regarding schooling, medical care or religious beliefs etc.

For example, if you can’t decide who your child is to live with you could get a Child Arrangements Order to set out living arrangements.

Or, if you can’t agree on how much time your child will spend with the non-resident parent (the parent that doesn’t live with the child) you could get an Order to outline contact arrangements.

How does a Child Arrangements Order work?

Child Arrangement Orders work differently, depending on the type of Order.

Live With Orders

For a Child Arrangements Order on living arrangements, the Court could:

  • Name one person who the child is to live with
  • Name two people who live in the same household who the child is to live with (often a child’s parent and step-parent)
  • Name two people in different households who the child is to live with (often separated parents). The Order will specify how much time the child is to spend in each household.

Spend Time With (Contact) Orders

For a Spend Time With Order on contact arrangements, the Court could Order any of the following types of contact:

  • Direct, in person arrangements and indirect arrangements, such as telephone and video calls
  • Overnight and visiting arrangements
  • Supervised and unsupervised arrangements

In the full article, Sarah looks at who has parental responsibility with a CAO, who can apply for one and more. Click here to read it.

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