The breakdown of any relationship can be distressing, especially when children are involved. The children’s best interests are paramount, and when deciding on their arrangements following separating from a partner, it can be difficult to know what is best for them.

We have put together a guide to knowing what to include in your child arrangement agreement on divorce or separation.

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangements order is a legal order that regulates a child’s living arrangements after their parents separate. A child arrangements order might include the following:

  • Where the child lives primarily
  • When the child spends time with each parent and the conditions and frequency of these visits
  • When and what other types of contact might take place (eg. Phone calls, texts)
  • Give directions to the parent/guardian in respect of

The Court can also make Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders if you are unable to agree about important aspects of your child’s life such as:

  • What school they go to
  • If the child’s education should be religious
  • medical treatment
  • Prohibiting a party from carrying out a certain activity

Each child arrangements order will differ since it is decided in relation to the family’s individual circumstances. 

Instruct a trusted family law solicitor to talk you through your options and ultimately assist you in drafting the agreement and/or an application to Court to ensure that you include all necessary details.

Child arrangements orders are governed by section 8 of the Children Act 1989.


Who can apply for a child arrangement order?

Most commonly, a child arrangement order is applied for by one of the parents following their separation or divorce. However, anyone with parental responsibility can apply:

  • Biological parent
  • Stepparent
  • Grandparent
  • Guardian
  • Other relatives

Unless a person is already considered a guardian of the child, anybody who does not have parental responsibility for a child will face additional steps, including applying to the Court for permission to seek a child arrangement order before they can begin the process.


What happens if a child arrangement order is breached?

Child arrangement orders are legally binding once approved by the Court. It is possible to ask the Court to enforce an order if it is no longer being met by one of the parties. There are a variety of potential outcomes of Court involvement.

It is often recommended that the parties involved attend mediation to prevent further distress or confusion and in the hope you will be able to co-parent with the child’s best interests in mind.

This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please get in touch with our team of solicitors