Child arrangement orders

Whenever children are involved in a break up, their interests must come first. We offer a sympathetic handling of each individual case, always aiming that children suffer minimally from their parents’ separation.

Child arrangement orders (CAO) are used to regulate whom a child is to live, spend time with or otherwise have contact following their parents separation. Known previously as custody and access and more recently known as residence and contact.

By moving away from Residence and Contact Orders to an Order that sets out the arrangements for a child it is hoped it will help focus parents’ minds on resolving just that, the arrangements for the children and not entering into protracted disputes over the title of the order they seek. The title of Residence and Contact Orders often led to one parent feeling like the winner and the other who achieved only a contact order, the loser. Shared residence orders had been used to combat this theory of winner and loser in an attempt to prevent one parent from abusing any power or perceived control of the child   If you and your partner have separated and you cannot agree who the child will live with then an Application for a CAO needs to be made to the Court.   If you have agreed who the child is to live with but cannot agree the amount of time with the non-resident parent, an Application needs to be made to the Court for a CAO regulating contact arrangements.

Before issuing an Application you must attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) and invite your former partner to attend, a mediator will attend and discuss the dispute with each party, assessing whether any other form of dispute resolution can assist in resolving the dispute.   Should your former partner refuse to attend a MIAM or a mediator considers that none of the other methods of dispute resolution are suitable an application must be made to the Court.

Applications are made by completing Form C100 confirming either attendance at MIAM or giving reasons for non-attendance and lodging the same at Court. Some people are entitled to apply for child arrangements orders; others need the court’s permission first.