Child Arrangement Order

Child Arrangement Order

Phone Icon Request a Callback

Child Arrangement Order Solicitors

Dealing with child arrangement orders can feel overwhelming, especially when emotions run high. Understanding these legal frameworks is crucial for ensuring your child's best interests.

Collaborative Law Logo The Law Society Family Law Accredited Law Resolution Logo

Child Arrangement Order UK

Dealing with child arrangement orders can feel overwhelming, especially when emotions run high. Whether you're going through a separation or simply seeking clarity on your parental rights, understanding these legal frameworks is crucial for ensuring your child's best interests.

Having an expert family law solicitor by your side can greatly relieve the stress of going through the Child Arrangement Order process. GloverPriest’s legal professionals provide expert guidance and support to help navigate complex situations, making sure your child's best interests are always the focus.

When to Seek a Solicitor

It’s important to discuss your case with a specialist solicitor as soon as possible when you face child custody issues or need to establish a Child Arrangement Order. Getting in touch early allows your solicitor to provide timely advice and support, helping you secure the best possible arrangement for your child.

What are child arrangement orders?

Child arrangement orders are legal decisions made by the court. They determine where a child will live, who they'll spend time with, and how they will maintain contact with other individuals. 

The primary aim is always to protect and promote the child's welfare. Child arrangement orders cover various aspects, including:

How Child Arrangement Orders Impact You

Child arrangement orders affect both parents and children. While they provide structure and clarity, they also require adjustments in your daily routines and living arrangements.

Child's Best Interests

The court's primary focus is always on the child's best interests, guiding every decision made during the process. Factors considered include the child's emotional needs, their wishes (depending on age and maturity), and the capability of each parent to meet the child's needs.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility encompasses the legal rights, duties, powers, and authority a parent has for a child. This responsibility ensures you're involved in significant decisions like education, medical care, and religious upbringing. 

Parental responsibility lays a foundation for shared duties, ensuring parents can collectively contribute to their child's growth and happiness. The court will consider parental responsibility when issuing Child Arrangement Orders, ensuring the child's best interests remain paramount.

Who has parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility. Fathers gain PR if they were married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, if they’re on the birth certificate, or by obtaining a court order. Alternatively, parental responsibility can be acquired through a Parental Responsibility Agreement or by being named in a Child Arrangement Order.

In cases of separation or divorce, both parents need to maintain their parental responsibility. Though living arrangements might change, your involvement in vital decisions should remain the same, maintaining stability for the child. 

What is the cost of a Child Arrangement Order?

Obtaining a Child Arrangement Order involves several costs. When you apply, you’ll need to pay the standard court fee. If your financial situation is challenging, you might be eligible for a fee exemption. 

Additional costs, like your legal representation and reports or witness testimonies, are also significant costs to consider. 

Considering these costs will help you plan your application process for a Child Arrangement Order more effectively. Accurate budgeting ensures you manage financial expectations, allowing you to focus on securing the best outcome for your child's well-being.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

As a general rule, only those who have parental responsibility can apply for a Child Arrangement Order in the UK. However, in exceptional circumstances, others (such as grandparents) may be able to apply but will need special permission from the court.

Can Grandparents Apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

Yes, grandparents can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Although they don't automatically have parental responsibility, they can ask for permission from the court to apply for this order. 

The court considers several factors, including the nature of the application and the proximity of the child's living situation. 

Can Other Relatives Apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

Other relatives, such as aunts or uncles, can also apply for a Child Arrangement Order. Similar to grandparents, they need the court's permission unless they have lived with the child for at least three years. 

This requirement ensures that the courts only consider serious and long-term applicants, preserving the child's stability and well-being.

Can Guardians Apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

Guardians who've been appointed to look after a child can apply for a Child Arrangement Order. They already hold parental responsibility and thus can directly make the application. 

If any disputes arise regarding the child's care, a court order ensures that the guardian's role is clearly defined and legally recognised.

Can Foster Carers Apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

Foster carers can apply for a Child Arrangement Order if they have the court's permission. Foster carers usually need to demonstrate a significant relationship with the child and showcase why a court order would be in the child's best interest. 

Making an application for a Child Arrangement Order

When applying for a Child Arrangement Order, several steps need to be followed to ensure a smooth and compliant process. Understanding these steps can make the experience less daunting and more manageable for you and your family.

Initial Considerations

You need to assess whether a Child Arrangement Order is appropriate for your situation. These orders, governed by the Children Act 1989, determine where a child lives, who they spend time with, and other contact arrangements. Ensuring that the child's welfare is paramount is essential and can be complex during custody disputes.

Role of Family Law Solicitors

Instructing an experienced family law solicitor is always recommended. They’ll provide legal advice throughout the process, help draft necessary documents, and represent your interests in court if required. 

Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

You're usually required to attend a MIAM before applying to court for a Child Arrangement Order. This meeting assesses whether mediation could resolve your disputes without needing a court order. 

If both parties agree to mediation, the process can be much quicker and more amicable. However, cases involving domestic abuse or those with urgency may be permitted to skip the mediation process and apply straight for a court order.

Completing the Child Arrangement Order Application

If mediation fails or isn't appropriate, you can proceed with the formal application. Completing the C100 form is the next step, detailing the child's current living arrangements, your proposed changes, and reasons for the order. Accurate, detailed information is critical to avoid delays or rejections.

Submitting the Child Arrangement Order Application

Submit the completed C100 form, along with a court fee, to your local family court. The court then reviews the application and schedules a hearing to discuss the case.

Court Proceedings

During the hearing, the judge considers both parties' views and any evidence presented. They may request additional documents or testimonies from relevant professionals, like social workers or child psychologists. The judge prioritises the child's welfare above all else when making a decision.

Final Order

Once all evidence and arguments are reviewed, the judge issues the Child Arrangement Order. This court order outlines the precise living and contact arrangements, ensuring that the child's best interests are met.

What is an interim child arrangements order?

An interim child arrangements order is a temporary court order that states who a child lives with (or spends time with) while a case awaits a final decision. Courts issue interim child arrangement orders to ensure the child's needs are met promptly, preventing disruption during ongoing legal proceedings.

When is an Interim Order Issued?

Courts only usually issue interim orders when there's an urgent need to decide on a child's care arrangements. Situations may include immediate concerns about the child's safety or well-being. If mediation fails to resolve the issues, the court will step in to make sure the child's interests remain paramount.

Process of Obtaining an Interim Order

  1. Apply for a Child Arrangements Order: Begin by applying for a Child Arrangements Order UK with the court.
  2. MIAM: Attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting unless exempt.
  3. Interim Hearing: The court conducts an initial hearing to decide on the need for an interim order.
  4. Court Assessment: The court may ask for reports from CAFCASS to understand the child's situation better.


Importance of Interim Orders

Interim Child Arrangements Orders act as essential tools for maintaining children's stability during legal disputes. By ensuring immediate, temporary arrangements are in place, these orders help foster secure environments until long-term solutions are reached.

These orders, while temporary, play a vital role in child custody cases, safeguarding the welfare and routine of the children involved.

How long does it take to get a Child Arrangement Order?

Processing a Child Arrangement Order involves multiple steps and can take some time. Generally, the duration depends on the complexity of the case and the parties' cooperation. On average, it takes 4 to 6 months to obtain a final order.

What does the judge look at in a child arrangement order?

In a child arrangement order, the judge evaluates various factors to ensure the child's best interests are upheld. These considerations guide the decision-making process, ensuring stability and welfare for your child.

If I Refuse Mediation Will It Go Against Me in Court UK

Refusing mediation in the UK can impact your case. Courts generally expect you to attempt mediation before proceeding with a child arrangement order. This step shows a willingness to resolve matters amicably. However, if mediation isn't suitable due to safety concerns or other valid reasons, it's best to inform the court.

How Do Family Courts Test for Drugs in Child Arrangement Cases?

In some child arrangement cases, the court may require drug testing to ensure a safe environment. Solicitors can guide you through this process.

Types Of Court-Ordered Drug Tests

Family courts use several types of drug tests:

Each test type serves specific purposes based on the context of your case.

Who Pays for the Testing?

Typically, the party requesting the drug test bears the cost. However, courts may decide differently based on your situation. Your solicitor will advise you on financial responsibilities during this process.

Importance Of Drug Tests In Child Arrangements Cases

Drug tests play a vital role in child arrangement cases as reliable and factual results can influence court decisions regarding custody arrangement, ensuring the child's environment is safe and free from substance abuse

What Happens Next?

Once all evaluations are complete, the court finalises its decision. The child arrangement order will then outline living arrangements and parental responsibilities. 

What happens when a parent doesn’t follow a child arrangements order?

When a parent doesn't follow a Child Arrangement Order, it's crucial to understand the consequences and the steps available to enforce the court's decision.

When Can an Application for an Enforcement Order Be Made?

If a parent breaches the terms of a Child Arrangement Order without a reasonable excuse, you can apply for an enforcement order. According to the Children Act 1989, repeated non-compliance or a significant single breach can warrant an enforcement application. Situations may include failing to return the child after contact or denying the other parent's visitation rights.

What Happens if I Don’t Stick to the Enforcement Order?

Failing to comply with an enforcement order can lead to serious consequences. Courts may impose sanctions, such as:

How to Apply for an Enforcement Order

To apply for an enforcement order, follow these steps:

  1. Consult a Solicitor: Seek advice from a specialist family law solicitor with expertise in child custody matters to ensure you understand your legal standing.
  2. File a C79 Form: Complete and submit the C79 application form, providing details of the breach.
  3. Gather Evidence: Include any evidence supporting your claim, such as communication logs or eyewitness testimonies.
  4. Attend Court: You and the other parent will need to attend a court hearing where a judge will review the case

Reasonable excuse to breach child arrangement order

Breaching a Child Arrangement Order can lead to serious consequences, but there are instances where breaching the order might be viewed as reasonable. It's important to understand these exceptions, especially as your primary concern is the child's welfare.

Health and Safety Concerns

Putting the child's health and safety first is paramount. If the child is ill or injured, and you're acting to safeguard their well-being, this may constitute a reasonable breach. For example, if the child has an injury that requires hospital treatment, it may be deemed justifiable.


Certain emergencies necessitate quick actions. If you face situations such as a sudden family crisis or an accident leaving you unable to comply with the Child Arrangement Order UK, this could be considered a valid reason. If this happens, you must notify the other parent and the court as soon as possible.

Changes in Circumstances

Unforeseen changes, like abrupt relocations due to work, might lead to breaches. If your relocation aligns with the child's best interests, solicitors recommend communicating with the other parent and seeking court approval.

Preventing Criminal Behaviour

Sometimes, refusing to comply with a court order is necessary to prevent criminal activity. For instance, if there are concerns about child abuse or neglect when the child is with the other parent and you breach the CAO to protect the child, this can be seen as reasonable. 

In this case, you should always document your concerns and seek specialist legal advice before acting.

Legal Process for Addressing Breaches

If you're uncertain whether your reasons for breaching the order are valid, it's vital that you discuss your situation with a family law solicitor who specialises in child arrangement orders. 

Can a child arrangement order be changed?

Yes, Child Arrangement Orders can be modified under certain circumstances.

If Your Child Arrangements Aren’t Working

Changes to a Child Arrangement Order can be considered when current arrangements no longer meet the child's needs. Situations like relocation, changes in parents' work schedules, or a child's evolving requirements may warrant modifications. 

Ensure any issues affecting the arrangement are discussed with your solicitor to determine if a court application is necessary.

Applying to Change an Order

To change a Child Arrangement Order, you need to apply to the court. The court will review the application and decide if the changes benefit the child. 

Initially, a solicitor can guide you through the application process. Submissions typically require detailed explanations and relevant evidence, which might include testimony from both parents and reports from CAFCASS.

Factors the Court Considers

When deciding on changes to a Child Arrangement Order, the court prioritises the child's welfare. Factors such as the child's physical and emotional needs, parents' ability to meet these needs, and any risks of harm are thoroughly assessed. The judge may also consider the child's own wishes, depending on their age and understanding.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Before applying to the court for an amendment to your order, you should explore mediation first. Mediation provides an opportunity for both parents to discuss and resolve issues amicably. A mediator can facilitate communication and help draft a new agreement. If mediation fails, the court is then approached for modifications, making mediation a crucial step.

Emergency Changes

In emergencies, immediate changes to Child Arrangement Orders may be required. If the child's safety is at risk, contact your solicitor as soon as possible. The court can issue an urgent interim order to address immediate concerns, ensuring the child's protection while considering longer-term solutions.

How long does a Child Arrangement Order last?

Child Arrangement Orders (CAOs) usually last until the child turns 16, but some may extend until the age of 18 under certain circumstances. Typically, CAOs apply immediately after the court issues it unless stated otherwise.

Various factors influence the duration of a CAO. If the court considers the child mature enough to make their own decisions at 16, the order ceases. However, in complex cases involving special circumstances, the court might decide to extend the order.

Interim orders, issued during ongoing legal proceedings, provide temporary arrangements for the child’s care. These orders remain in place until the hearing for the final order. If the interim arrangements suit the child, parties can agree to make them permanent at the final hearing.

Getting help with child arrangements

Navigating child arrangements can be challenging. Finding the right support makes a significant difference. You have several options to aid in managing Child Arrangement Orders.

Mediation Services

Mediation offers a voluntary and confidential way to resolve disputes without going to court. Mediators are impartial professionals who help you and the other parent reach a mutually agreeable solution. Many find mediation less stressful and quicker than court proceedings.

Legal Advice

Consulting with solicitors or family lawyers is often necessary for understanding your rights and responsibilities. These professionals, experienced in Child Arrangement Orders, provide valuable legal advice tailored to your situation. 

Court Orders

If mediation doesn't resolve the issues, applying for a Child Arrangement Order through the Family Court is the next step. The court assesses multiple factors, prioritising the child's best interests. Applying for a court order often requires legal assistance to ensure all documentation and procedures are correctly followed.

Support Groups

Support groups offer emotional backing and practical advice for parents dealing with child custody issues. These groups, both online and in-person, provide a platform for sharing experiences and gaining insights from others in similar situations.

Local Authority Support

Local authorities can offer various forms of support, including counselling services, parenting courses, and supervised contact centres. These resources help you maintain a stable environment for your child.

Online Resources

Numerous websites offer detailed information and guidance on Child Arrangement Orders in the UK. Official sites like provide comprehensive guides and necessary forms.

By utilising these resources, you’ll be better equipped to handle your child arrangement situation with confidence.


At GloverPriest, we understand that each situation is sensitive and that everyone’s circumstances are different. This is why we tailor our service to find the best outcome for your situation. 

In some areas of family law, we offer an introductory consultation with an expert member of our legal team. This meeting is free and designed for you to get to know our firm and your solicitor and to discuss your case in further detail. 

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangement Order is a court order that specifies who the child will live with, spend time with, and have contact with. It is designed to prioritise the child's best interests during parental separation.

How do I obtain a Child Arrangement Order?

To obtain a Child Arrangement Order, you must apply to the family court. The process includes completing the necessary forms, attending court hearings, and possibly undergoing assessments to ensure the child's well-being is prioritised.

Can a Child Arrangement Order be changed?

Yes, a Child Arrangement Order can be changed if there are significant changes in circumstances. A new application must be submitted to the court, demonstrating the need for the change in the child's best interests.

How long does a Child Arrangement Order last?

Typically, a Child Arrangement Order lasts until the child turns 16. However, the duration can vary depending on the specific circumstances and needs of the child involved.

What happens if a Child Arrangement Order is not followed?

Non-compliance with a Child Arrangement Order can lead to legal consequences, including fines, community service, or even imprisonment. It is crucial to adhere to the terms of the order to avoid such outcomes.

Where can I get help with child arrangements?

You can obtain help with child arrangements from mediation services, legal advisors, court orders, support groups, local authority services, and online resources. These options offer emotional support, legal guidance, and practical advice.

Why is legal support important in child arrangement cases?

Legal support is essential in child arrangement cases to ensure that all legal requirements are met and the child's well-being is prioritised. Legal experts can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the court process.

What factors influence the length of a Child Arrangement Order?

The length of a Child Arrangement Order is influenced by various factors, including the child's age, specific needs, and any changes in circumstances. The court aims to prioritise the child's best interests in every decision.

Can mediation help in resolving child arrangement disputes?

Yes, mediation can be a valuable tool in resolving child arrangement disputes. It allows parents to discuss and agree on arrangements with the help of a neutral third party, potentially avoiding the need for a court order.

Are there local authority support options for child arrangements?

Yes, local authorities offer various support options for child arrangements. These may include counselling, family support services, and resources to help parents navigate custody issues effectively.


Review Solictiors Logo
The Law Society Family Law Accredited
Collaborative Law Logo
Law Resolution Logo
Recommended Service

Related News

The Team

Pavneet Matharu

Director / Solicitor

View Profile Right Arrow

Louise Dewell

Chartered Legal Executive

View Profile Right Arrow

Salvia Akram


View Profile Right Arrow

Lee Trubshaw


View Profile Right Arrow

Aarifah Mahmood

Trainee Solicitor

View Profile Right Arrow

Get in Touch

We use cookies to improve your experience and to help us understand how you use our site. By using this site, you accept our use of cookies. Learn more x