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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 parent only or it may provide for the child to share their time equally between both parents.
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.
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.
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:
Finally the court must also be satisfied that making an order is better for the child than not making an order at all.
If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement concerning children or would like more information about applying for a Child Arrangement Order please contact one of our family law solicitors on 0345 507 5151, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online form at the top of this page.
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