A child arrangements order provides where a child should live. In circumstances where parents separate and there is a dispute about where a child should live, the courts view the welfare of your child as the first and paramount concern. We will encourage and assist you and your former partner to achieve a swift and painless resolution of your differences.
In practice, where a mother and father have separated, there is probably a presumption that the mother has been the main carer and if this has not been the case, the father has the burden to prove this.
When deciding about a child arrangements order, the Court refers to a statutory checklist:
- The wishes and feelings of the child, in light of their age and understanding
- The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child
- The likely effect of any change in the child’s circumstances
- The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics the Court considers relevant
- Any harm the child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each parent is of meeting the needs of the child
- The powers of the Court
The Court will also consider:
- If it is in the interests of children to see the parent they do not live with
- That the future for the children is more important than what happened in the past
Where a child arrangements order is in force, the person who has the child living with them can take the child outside England and Wales for up to a month at a time without needing the permission of any other persons who have parental responsibility or the Court.
Child arrangements orders also provide someone who is not a legal parent of a child with parental responsibility, for example:
- One parent’s unmarried new partner
- One parent’s former partner, who is not a legal parent of the child, but with whom the child spends regular time
- The biological father of a child who is co-parenting with a lesbian couple in circumstances where he is not legally the father