£Make a Payment

Central Leeds Oxford House, Oxford Row, Leeds, LS1 3BE    0113 2432288    info@henryhyams.com

£Make a Payment

Child Arrangement Orders

If you are in the process of a split or divorce and children are involved, it is likely that you will need to resolve arrangements for the children. If you are unable to reach an agreement between yourselves we are able to assist and advise you in relation to a court application for a Child Arrangements Order. 

Making an application to the Court should be considered as a last resort, and attempts should be made initially to negotiate through solicitors or through mediation.  

What is a child arrangement order?

A Child Arrangements Order has replaced what was previously known as “Contact Orders” and “Residence Orders”. 

A child arrangements order decides:

where your child lives

when your child spends time with each parent

when and what other types of contact take place (e.g phone calls)

How does the court decide what’s best for the child’s welfare?

When making a decision on future child arrangements, courts will use the welfare checklist set out in section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. Following this checklist means the below will be taken into consideration ahead of a decision:

The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of age and understanding)

Physical, emotional and educational needs

The likely effect of any change in circumstances

Age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant

Any harm which has been suffered or is at risk of suffering

The capability of the parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant

The court will also consider whether making no order at all would be better for the child (known as the “no order” principle) and if deemed best, will utilise this option.

Who can apply for a child arrangement order?

Only certain family members are allowed to apply for a child arrangement order. These include

Parents, guardians or special guardians of the child

A spouse or civil partner if the child is part of that family

Someone with parental responsibility

Someone who already has a residence order for that child

Someone who the child has lived with for more than three years

Grandparents who fail to meet any of the criteria above are required to apply for permission from a court before applying for the order.

How long does a child arrangement order take?

There is no standard time frame for the application and decision process of securing a child arrangement order. There are many factors that can impact the time it takes to complete the process, however, the process can take between 6-12 months to reach a final decision.

In the first instance, it will take around six to eight weeks from when you first apply for the preliminary court hearing. When CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) has to produce a report, it will normally need about 12 weeks to do so.

How long does a child arrangement order last?

A Child Arrangement Order usually lasts until the child is 16, or 18 in certain circumstances unless the court order specifically states otherwise. 

Can child arrangement orders be varied?

Over time, circumstances for both parents and children may change. So, you may find yourself in a position where you need to request changes to the Child Arrangements Order you have in place.

Reasons to request a change include:

Your employment has changed, and you cannot fulfil your contact in the way the order sets out

You are moving home

Your child’s needs have changed, perhaps as they get older

If you want to amend an order, you will need to show the proposed changes will be in the best interests of the child.

It is always advisable to reach an agreement with the other parent in the first instance when looking to change a Child Arrangements Order, rather than making a unilateral decision. Looking to get the other parent involved and requesting consent to make a change is always the best course of action if possible.

If you do not get consent and make a unilateral decision to change the child arrangements order, you could be in breach of the order and the other parent could make an application to the court to enforce the order which could mean you would be subject to sanctions including a fine, community service or even a prison sentence.

If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation, you can apply to the court to make the required amendments. In this case, the wishes and feelings of your child are likely to be considered before a decision is made.

Applying for a child arrangement order with Henry Hyams

At Henry Hyams, our family law solicitors in Leeds can provide advice and walk you through the process of applying for a child arrangement order to help you provide the best possible solution for you and your children.

Should you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our child custody solicitors Leeds team, please contact us on the email below or contact us on 0113 2432288.

Contact our Leeds family law solicitors:


Meet The Team

Meet the Team

We want you to feel confident in the legal advisor that deals with your case.

View Profiles +

Make an Enquiry