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Gorvins Family Law solicitors are specialists in children matters and will guide you through the process of achieving a child arrangement order from application through to the court decision. It’s important to obtain legal advice as the order will ultimately determine who the child will live with following divorce and how much contact the other parent can have.

Call us on 0161 930 5151, e-mail familyteam@gorvins.com, or fill in our contact form opposite and a member of the team will call you back at a time to suit you.

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is an order that regulates arrangements for a child or children that relate to any of the following:

  • Who the child will live with, spend time or otherwise have contact with
  • When the child is to spend time and have contact with any person(s) named in the order including overnight staying contact, supervised contact or indirect contact through letters or cards etc.

A CAO may provide for the child to live with one parent only or it may provide for the child to share their time equally between both parents.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

A child’s parents (mother or father) can always apply for a CAO, as can a child’s step-parent, guardian, or anyone with whom the child has been living for at least three of the last five years. Other people may apply for a CAO as long as they have the consent of those with parental responsibility or permission from the court.

How long does it take to get a Child Arrangement Order?

It’ll take between 4-6 weeks after you apply to get a court date. There is no set time limit for how long a judgement can take to be rendered, however. The length of time between requesting a CAO and achieving one is highly dependent upon the specifics of your case.

At your first hearing, a judge will often see if you can both come to an agreement for custody arrangements. Where that’s not possible, the judge may adjourn the case until they have enough information to make a judgement.

The complexity of the case will ultimately extend the time it could take to achieve a judgement. For instance, where there are safeguarding concerns for the child, the length of time before a judgement is rendered will increase. In some complex cases, a CAO could take between 6-12 months to achieve.

How long does a Child Arrangement Order last?

A CAO that regulates who the child should live with will last until the child has reached the age of 18 (unless the court orders an earlier date).

A CAO that regulates when the child is to have contact with a person will usually end when the child is 16 but in limited circumstances can last until the child is 18.

What is the most common child custody arrangement that arises out of a child arrangement order?

Child custody arrangements are agreed based on the context of the individual case, with the child’s welfare the guiding principle and deciding factor. All things being equal, the most common arrangements include the 2-2-3 plan and the 2-2-5 plan.

As part of these plans, the child spends 2 days with parent A, 2 days with parent B, then 3 days with Parent A. The following week, the child will spend 2 days with parent B, 2 days with parent A and then 3 days with parent B.

Of course, if there are complicating factors, the custody arrangement may be different.

How does the court decide the outcome of the Child Arrangement Order?

The first concern of the court is the child’s welfare. The Children Act 1989 provides a list of considerations for the court to help make a decision including:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child concerned
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court decision
  • The child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics that will be relevant to the court’s decision
  • Any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering
  • The capability of the child’s parents (or other relevant people) in meeting the child’s needs;
  • The powers available to the court.

Finally, the court must also be satisfied that making an order is better for the child than not making an order at all.

How can Gorvins help?

If you’re having difficulty reaching an agreement concerning children or would like more information about applying for a Child Arrangement Order, contact one of our family law solicitors on 0161 930 5151, e-mail familyteam@gorvins.com or fill in our online form at the top of this page

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Meet the Family Law team

  • Kerry Lees-Russell

    Senior Associate
    Family Law

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  • Nicola Fraser

    Partner & Head of Family
    Family Law

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  • Rachel Edwards Barrott

    Associate Solicitor
    Family Law

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