Child Arrangements Orders

Making new arrangements for your children is one of the hardest parts of going through a divorce or separation. It is generally helpful if these can be agreed upon as soon as possible so that everyone can start getting used to new routines.

  • Carolyn Bawden-Frost
      • 01454 807985
      • 01454 859465
      • View profile
  • Melody Brown
      • 01454 807985
      • View profile
  • David Foster
      • 0117 909 4468
      • View profile
  • Phil Thomas
      • 0117 9926778
      • View profile
  • Suzanne Young
      • View profile

Several of our family law team specialise in child law and have extensive experience in putting child arrangements in place following the breakdown of a relationship. We will work with you to identify the best solution for you and your children and negotiate with their other parent’s solicitor to try and agree arrangements without the need for court action.

Our advice to you will be clear and practical. The courts prefer that issues are resolved between parents wherever possible, and we always aim to deal with matters with a minimum of conflict.

To speak to one of our child law solicitors, ring us on 0117 909 4000 or use the following links to fill in our enquiry form, and we will call you back. We have offices in Bristol and Winterbourne.

Our child arrangements services

Our child arrangements solicitors understand how difficult it can be to negotiate issues relating to your children, and you will find us sympathetic and supportive throughout. We will do all we can to ensure that the arrangements that are agreed upon are in the best interests of your children and that the process is as easy as possible for you.

Agreeing child arrangements

If you ask us to represent you, we will discuss with you the ways in which arrangements can be structured and take your instructions as to how you would like your agreement to look.

We can then enter into negotiations with the solicitor representing your children’s other parent to try and agree on the various points, such as where your children will live and how long they will spend with each parent.

We are often able to find a solution in this way, but if this is not possible, the next step is to consider mediation.

Child arrangements mediation

In most cases, you will be required to consider mediation as the next stage before asking the court to intervene. You will attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM. A neutral mediator will hear a little about your case and the issues to be decided, then explain the mediation process to you and discuss your options for proceeding. They will also tell you whether your case is suitable for mediation.

If it is and you wish to go ahead, mediations sessions will be arranged for you and your children’s other parent. If mediation is not suitable or either of you does not wish to go through the process, then the mediator will provide a form confirming that you have considered it, and your case can proceed to court.

Mediation is encouraged because as well as being a quicker and more cost-effective way of resolving matters, it can reduce conflict and help a couple to work together to agree matters and decide how to parent their children for the future.

Court action for child arrangements

If it is necessary for your case to go to court, we will ensure that you have a strong case and expert representation. The judge’s primary consideration will be what they believe to be in the best interests of your children.

To help the court in making a decision, it will generally ask the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to meet you and your children and prepare a report.

Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders

You may have disagreements that have not been covered in the child arrangements order and that you need the court to decide upon. The court can make additional orders known as specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders to rule on these questions.

A specific issue order can be made in respect of matters such as where a child should go to school, what medical treatment they should have, whether their name can be changed and what religion they will follow.

A prohibited steps order is made to stop a parent from taking a specified action, such as going to live far away, moving overseas, changing the child’s name and preventing medical treatment.

For more information about our services, see child law solicitors in Bristol.

Why choose Henriques Griffiths’ child arrangements solicitors?

Henriques Griffiths has been helping families negotiate legal issues since 1973. We are known for our leading legal excellence as well as our outstanding service, always working to ensure you have the support and guidance you need.

Our Law Society accreditations & memberships

We are constantly working to ensure our lawyers are at the forefront of legal knowledge and that we can offer the best in both legal representation and non-confrontational dispute resolution.

Our family law team includes members of the Law Society’s Family Law and Children Law panels in recognition of our legal expertise. We also have a solicitor who is a member of Resolution, the group of family law practitioners dedicated to dealing with matters in a constructive way and with a minimum of conflict.

Henriques Griffiths holds the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation in respect of our high standards of practice management and client care. The firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), confirming our continuing excellence both legally and professionally.

Child arrangements FAQs

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A child arrangements order is an order made by the court setting out in detail arrangements for your child or children, such as where and when they will spend their time. It is legally binding, meaning that the order can be enforced by the court if a parent does not follow its terms.

Do I need a Child Arrangements Order?

A child arrangements order is generally advisable. Even if you are able to agree matters amicably with your children’s other parent, you can ask the court to put the agreement into a legally binding order, meaning that everyone will be able to rely on the agreement in the future, giving you and your children some certainty.

What is included in a Child Arrangements Order?

You can include a range of issues in your Child Arrangements Order, which can be tailored to suit your exact circumstances. The following are generally included:

  • Which parent your children will live with, and where this will be
  • When and where they will see their other parent
  • Who else your children will see
  • How they will stay in touch with each parent while they are apart
  • What financial provision will be made for your children

What does a court consider when making a Child Arrangements Order?

If the court is asked to agree or make a Child Arrangements Order, its primary consideration will always be what is in the best interests of the children involved.

It will take into account the following points from the welfare checklist:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child in the light of their age and understanding
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The effect on the child of any change in their circumstances
  • The child’s age, sex, background and any other relevant characteristic
  • Harm that the child may have suffered or be at risk of
  • The parents’ abilities to meet the child’s needs

How long do Child Arrangements orders last?

A Child Arrangements Order generally lasts until the child is 16 unless the court specifies that it will last until it is 18.

Can a Child Arrangements Order be varied?

It is possible to vary a Child Arrangements Order by going through a similar process. Again, it is preferable if you can agree the changes with the child’s other parent. If not, you can consider mediation and apply to the court. The court will have regard to the child’s best interests and look at the welfare issues before making a decision.

Contact our expert child arrangements solicitors now

For Child Arrangements Orders advice, to include arranging mediation or for help from a collaborative law expert, please call our family law and divorce solicitors on 0117 909 4000 or use the links below to make an enquiry or request a call back.

We have offices in Bristol and Winterbourne.