The biggest concern to everyone involved in a divorce or separation is the welfare of the children from the relationship. Sometimes when things cannot be worked out amicably the child’s welfare is decided through the courts. At this point a child arrangement order can come into effect. But what is a child arrangement order?

A Child Arrangements Order is an order that determines who the child or children live and spend time with and who they may have contact with. Child arrangement orders can differ based on each cases personal circumstances of the family but will always look to put the best interests of that particular child first. Child Arrangements Orders are governed by section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

There are many questions that we hear from our clients when it comes to the arrangements for child arrangement orders and so here, we try to clear a few of these common questions up.

What happens if a party breaks the rules of the Child Arrangements Order?

The only way the court can be aware of a breach in a child arrangement order is if a formal application for enforcement is made. The Court will only make an Enforcement Order if it is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a person has failed to comply with the order.

When making an Enforcement Order, the consequences of breaking the order can be severs ranging from giving the party concerned a warning, fine, community service, or even a prison sentence.

What if all parties agree to depart from the arrangements set out in the Child Arrangements Order?

If everyone involved in the Child Arrangements Order agree the changes, it would not be in breach of the order to depart from its terms. However, the changes to the agreement are not legally binding unless the order is formally updated by the Court. If the informal agreement comes to an end at any point, the parties will have to revert back to the original order.

Can a Child Arrangements Order be changed?

Over time and as the children get older family circumstances and the children’s needs change and the court are well aware of this fact. Therefore, the court allows for applications for variation of an existing Child Arrangements Order as long as it is proven to be in the child’s best interests.

How long is a Child Arrangements Order in force for?

The ‘contact’ element of a child arrangement order will remain legally binding until the child reaches the age of 16 unless stated otherwise in the order. This is in accordance with section 91(10) of the Children Act 1989. At the age of 16 it becomes the child’s responsibility to decide how much contact they would like to have with the parent they do not live with.

The ‘live with’ element of a Child Arrangements Order remains legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18, although the Court rarely enforce this order beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

For further information on the complex aspects of child arrangement orders or if you are looking to apply for a Child Arrangements Order then contact us on 01983 632006 or email for more information.