Child Arrangements Order
A child arrangements order decides:
where your child lives
the arrangements to see each parent
how other contact takes place such as indirect contact by phone
Brief Child arrangements procedure:
Obtain permission if required. Most parents/carers do not need this but in cases where it is needed it must be requested.
Attend a MIAM, a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting. This is to determine if mediation is suitable and court proceedings can be prevented. There are some exceptions to this.
Submit C100 form signed by mediator to say MIAM complied with but mediation is not possible/suitable.
Cafcass (Children & Families Court Advisory & Support Service) invited to conduct safeguarding checks with police and local authority. Cafcass contact applicant and respondent).
First hearing dispute resolution appointment (FHDRA). No evidence is heard but directions set for the next hearing normally with a minimum timeline of 12 weeks.
If required, fact finding hearing set to explore safeguarding issues e.g domestic abuse.
Cafcass may be directed to complete a report.
Dispute resolution appointment.
Final hearing and order made.
What factors do the court consider?
In considering each case Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 requires that the court must have regard to the welfare checklist. This requires consideration of:
the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding);
their physical, emotional and/or educational needs;
the likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances;
their age, sex, background and any characteristics of theirs which the court considers relevant;
any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering;
how capable each of their parents (and any other person the court considers the question to be relevant) is of meeting their needs; and
the range of powers available to the court in the proceedings.
The child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration for all proceedings under the Children Act 1989 when it considers a question of the child’s upbringing.
The court will consider recommendations made by Cafcass. Cafcass have a number of ‘tools’ they use in making their assessment including the Child Impact Assessment Framework.