Child Arrangement Solicitor: Our Panel of Experts

Request a call from a family law solicitor

Consent

The breakdown of any relationship is never easy, especially when children are involved. It is essential that parents can reach an agreement on child contact and child care arrangements. An agreement can often be made between parties privately or through the use of mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached as to child arrangements, a court order may be required to determine child arrangements between separated parents.

A child arrangement solicitor will usually be an expert in family and child law. They will provide legal advice and assistance in applications for child arrangement orders . Alongside Child Arrangement Orders, our panel of solicitors may also assist with Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders.

child arrangement solicitor
divorce solicitors

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order is a legally binding document which will determine:

  • where the child will live (previously child residence orders)
  • which family members the child will spend time with (previously child contact orders)
  • when contact with parents will take place
  • what other types of contact will take place and when they will take place until the child is 16 years old

Child Arrangement Orders can be made through mediation, or you can apply to the Courts for a Child Arrangement Order if an agreement cannot be reached. If separated parents or families cannot agree to child care arrangements, it may be necessary to let the court decide the arrangements that should be out in place

These types of orders are made by the court to meet the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. Child Arrangement Order terms can be flexible to meet individual circumstances. They can help both parents to share a significant role in their child or children’s’ lives.

Child residence and child contact

 

Child Arrangements Orders play a crucial role in determining the living arrangements for children after the separation or divorce of their parents. This order is part of the family law system and helps ensure that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration.

These orders replaced the older concepts of “residence orders” and “contact orders” under the Children and Families Act 2014. They specify with whom a child is to live, spend time, or otherwise have contact.

The main aim is to ensure the child’s needs and welfare are prioritised in decisions about their upbringing, including their living arrangements.

Parents, guardians, and anyone with parental responsibility can apply. In some cases, other relatives like grandparents may apply with the court’s permission.

The application is made using Form C100, submitted to the family court. It typically follows attempts to resolve the matter through mediation unless exemptions apply (e.g., cases involving domestic violence).

Before going to court, parties are generally expected to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to explore whether the dispute can be resolved without a court hearing.

If the issue proceeds to court, a judge will make a decision based on evidence and reports. These often include contributions from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).

 

Types of Arrangements

 

  • Residence: The order will specify whom the child will live with. This could be one parent or both (in cases of shared arrangements).
  • Contact: The order also details how and when the child will have contact with the non-resident parent or other family members, which can be direct (in person) or indirect (via phone, email, etc.).

If an order is breached, the court can enforce compliance through various measures. This includes fines or altering the order to better serve the child’s needs.

Either party can apply to the court to modify the order if circumstances change significantly, or if the current arrangements no longer serve the child’s best interests.

 

Child arrangement case study

 

Parent 1 and parent 2, after a 10-year marriage, decided to separate. They have two children, aged 8 and 5. The separation was initially amicable, and both parents agreed that the children’s well-being was paramount. However, disagreements arose regarding where the children should primarily reside and the specifics of the contact schedule.

Initial Attempts at Resolution

The parents attempted mediation to resolve their disagreements. They were both open to shared parenting but struggled with coordinating schedules due to parent 1’s job requiring frequent travel and parent 2’s new residence being a considerable distance from the children’s school.

Application for a Child Arrangement Order

As mediation did not lead to a satisfactory agreement, parent 2 consulted a child arrangement solicitor from the Expert Family Law panel to apply for a Child Arrangement Order. The application emphasised her stable home environment and proximity to the children’s school and social activities, proposing that the children reside with her during school terms.

Court Proceedings

During the court proceedings, the judge considered several factors:

  • Children’s Current Lifestyle and Needs: The court noted the children’s strong attachment to their local school and community, which supported parent 2’s proposal.
  • Parents’ Living Arrangements and Work Commitments: Parent 1’s frequent travel and new residence further from the children’s school were seen as potentially disruptive.
  • Children’s Preferences: As the 8 year old child was of sufficient age, her preference to primarily live with parent 2 due to her school and social activities was taken into account.

Decision

The court issued a Child Arrangement Order stating that both children would reside with parent 2 during the school term. Parent 1 was granted contact every other weekend, half of the school holidays, and regular virtual contact sessions.

Follow-Up

After the order, parent 1 experienced difficulties adhering to the scheduled contact times due to unforeseen work commitments. This led to another consultation with a solicitor from our panel, who helped him apply for a modification of the order to accommodate more flexible contact arrangements, such as longer stays during school breaks to compensate for missed weekends.

Child Arrangement Solicitor – FAQ’s

What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order is made when there is a dispute between parents on a specific issue and a decision cannot be reached between parents. Some of the issues that may be resolved using this type of order may include, decisions on medical treatment, religion and where the child attends school.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order may be used by someone who has parental responsibility for the child to stop another parent from making certain choices or decisions about the upbringing of the child. This type of order may be used to stop the relocation of a child’s residence, removing the child from school or removing the child from the care of the other parent.

Are child arrangement orders only suitable for parents of the child or children?

Parents and guardians can apply for a child arrangement order; however others do have the right to apply to have contact with the child or children, these may include:

  • Step parents
  • Anyone who lived with the children for at least three of the past five years. The application must be made within three months of the child ceasing to live at the same address as them.
  • Grandparents or other close relatives in some circumstances
  • The court will consider anyone who does not fall into the above categories based on the risk of harm to the child and the advantages of the order being made.

What if the child does not agree to the order?

If the child or children are of an appropriate age, they may instruct a child arrangement solicitor to represnt them and present their request to the family courts for an alternative arrangement.

How long does a Child Arrangement Order last?

Child Arrangement Orders will usually expire when the child reaches the age of 16. In some circumstances, they will be valid until the child reaches the age of 18.

Do I need a child arrangement solicitor to obtain an order?

Child Arrangement Orders can be obtained without instructing a solicitor; however, we would highly recommend the use of a family law solicitor to ensure you are taking the right steps. A child arrangement solicitor can assist in negotiations between parents, arranging mediation and advising on when an application to the court should be made. A child arrangement solicitor will also guide you through the process of applying to the court and will provide representation for your case.

When disputes arise between parents, it can be helpful to have someone outside of the relationship to help you navigate through the conflict and provide you with the best advice on moving forward, keeping the needs of your children at the forefront.

They can also provide advice to parents for meeting the terms of the order and assistance when these terms have not been met.

How much does a child arrangement solicitor cost?

If you need to make an application to the Court to obtain a Child Arrangement Order, the fee will be £232. If you are receiving any benefits, or if you are on a low income, you may receive help to pay this fee. A solicitor may assist you in resolving your child arrangement dispute outside of court to help mitigate your costs.

You will also be required to pay the fees of the solicitor on your case any any other legal costs incurred. In some circumstances, such as those involving domestic abuse, you may be entitled to receive Legal Aid to cover your legal fees.

Some of the solicitors on our panel may offer a fixed fee for child arrangement cases.

You should always discuss potential costs and fees with your solicitor before agreeing to proceed with your case.

How can Expert Family Law's panel of Child Arrangement Solicitors help?

We understand that disputes involving children and their care can be incredibly complex and sensitive. The solicitors on our panel can provide you with the best advice and assistance on resolving child arrangement disputes and obtaining a Child Arrangement Order from the Court if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parents or through the process of mediation.

As well as assisting with child arrangements, our panel of family law solicitors can also advise and assist on the process of divorce and the division of assets following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief).

We ensure that the family law solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a child arrangement solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

Services

Divorce Proceedings

Ancillary Relief

Domestic Abuse

Child arrangements

Expert Family Law

Keep up to date with the latest family law news

Newsletter