Can you vary a Child Arrangements Order?
Yes, you can vary a Child Arrangements Order in the UK. This is because the court is aware that family circumstances change over time and that children's needs alter as they grow older. When applying to vary a Child Arrangements Order, the applicant must prove that the proposed changes are in the child's best interests. Namely that they are in line with their health, welfare, and overall individual needs.
Common reasons for wanting to change the living or contact arrangements for children can include the following:
- When a parent relocates and finds it difficult to follow the conditions of the Order.
- When a child's requirements drastically alter such as their medical requirements or they need to attend a specialised school.
- The child prefers less interaction or more contact with one parent.
- A parent finds it impossible to follow the initial Order because of their job or other obligations.
- If one of the parents is not adhering to the terms set out in the Order.
How do I apply for a variation of a Child Arrangements Order?
You can apply to vary a Child Arrangements Order in the same way as when you first applied for the initial Order. Form C100 must be filled out to change the existing court Order. This is the same form that is used for the initial child arrangements application. It is advised that parents attempt to communicate any concerns they may have about the current Order to see if they can agree to modify its provisions out of court. They can do this themselves or through mediation.
Family mediation is a good idea to help parents to discuss the arrangements for their children in a controlled, safe, and monitored setting. The Children Act promotes parental autonomy and discourages government intrusion in family matters. But sometimes, it is not feasible for parents to use mediation to come to reasonable solutions, so the court may have to intervene.
The issue will be scheduled for the first directions hearing once the court receives the application to modify the Order. At this hearing, the parties will attempt to come to agreements based on the child's best interests.
More hearings will be scheduled if parties cannot decide which may require the submission of further evidence or witness testimonies before a final hearing. The judge will weigh all the information provided and conclude in the final hearing what the new child arrangements will be moving forward. The priority for the judge is that the child’s interests will continue to be met with the new Order. However, if the judge decides that the original Child Arrangements Order is still suitable and meets the child’s needs, they may decide to keep the initial Order in place.
If it is in the child's best interest, the courts can modify or maintain the current order. The residence, who the child has contact with, and the amount of time that might be spent with each parent are all subject to change by the courts.
How Can GloverPriest Help?
At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent family law advice. If you would like further help on child arrangements, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert family lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form.