Child Arrangement Orders and Other Children-related Court Orders

The breakdown of a marriage is an emotional situation for everyone involved, including the divorcing spouses, their children, as well as all near and extended members of the family. The sooner and more amicably parents can reach an agreement over child arrangements, the less room there is going to be for stress and contention.

In many cases, the chances of reaching the best possible outcome are likely to be improved through mediation or other non-contentious means. If you would like assistance in relation to child arrangement orders, and other children-related court orders, contact the family law solicitors at Wellers today.

Children in Divorce and Separation

If a couple cannot agree on the arrangements for their children, or one parent has grounds to wish to prevent another party from carrying out a certain action in respect of a child, the court has power to grant the following orders.

Child Arrangement Orders

Child arrangements orders are necessary in the event of a dispute between separated families of any nature. The law and the courts work to ensure that such orders are child-focused and place priority on determining issues in relation to children under the age of 16 or, in exceptional cases, children under 18. They provide clarity in relation to the following:

  • Where the child will reside
  • When and how the child will have contact with parents
  • Details of and arrangements for other types of contact between the child and its parents, and family

The child’s best interests and welfare are central to any child arrangements order. What constitutes a child’s best interests are determined by the following:

  • The feelings and wishes of the child
  • The child’s emotional, educational and physical needs
  • Whether the child is in danger of any abuse or neglect
  • The parents’ or guardians’ ability to meet the child’s needs
  • Whether any change in circumstances might adversely or positively affect the child

There are a number of common situations in which applying for a child arrangement order might be the best course of action. For example, if your child lives with your former partner and you cannot agree arrangements for you to spend time with the child, or your partner is actively preventing you from having contact with your child, you might wish to apply for a child arrangements order.

Prohibited Steps Order

A prohibited steps order is a type of order granted by the court that works to prevent a parent or guardian from carrying out certain activities or visiting specific locations with their child. The legal steps necessary in a prohibited steps order can be stressful for all concerned, so legal advice should be considered essential to ensure a just outcome and non-contentious process.

Examples of what a prohibited steps order may cover include the following:

  • Ensuring a child is not removed by a parent from an educational or care establishment
  • Preventing a child from being removed from their home, local area or community
  • Preventing a child’s removal from the UK

A prohibited steps order can be made as part of a child arrangement order or by separate application.

Specific Issue Order

Specific issue orders are made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 and relate, as the name suggests, to some specific issue regarding child arrangements. They can help resolve otherwise stressful and insoluble seeming problems regarding the important practical details of a child’s life.

For example, a specific issue order may be made in relation to the following:

  • Immunisation
  • Medical treatment
  • Religious up-bringing
  • Type of schooling
  • Extra-curricular activities

The court’s main concern will always be the welfare of the child and in certain cases, when a child is deemed capable, their wishes will be taken into consideration in determining the outcome of an application.

Parenting Order

A parenting order is made by the court and requires one or both parents to undertake certain tasks as specified by the court. They are usually made in relation to children who are truanting from school or engaged in some form or offending or antisocial behaviour. Parenting orders may seem difficult to digest at first, but they are made in order to support and guide parents facing challenging circumstances and in order to help them advance the best interests of their child.

Leave to Remove

Any parent who wishes to relocate outside of the UK and take their children with them will need to obtain leave to remove from the other parent or via a court order that grants permission to do so.

Leave to remove cases can be emotionally taxing for all involved, so it is important to seek legal advice in order to fully protect the welfare of the child and their best interests.

Courts will need to look closely at the proposed plans for emigration, contact arrangements and what the likely impact will be on the child if the application is refused or granted.

Can you Apply?

If you are the parent, guardian or you have parental responsibility for a child, you are automatically entitled to make an application for the various orders listed above.

Other persons may be able to apply as of right including:

  • adults who have lived with the child for at least three of the last five years and within the last three months
  • any person already named in an existing order for care
  • any person who has the permission of all parties with parental responsibility or all those named in a care order
  • those persons who have the consent of the local authority in the case of a child living in care

Without parental responsibility or fulfilment of the criteria listed above, other parties such as grandparents, step-parents, aunts/uncles, close friends etc. will have to first seek permission from the court to submit an application.

Wellers Family Law Solicitors

The family law solicitors at Wellers are sensitive to the needs of parents while all the time ensuring that the interests of the children involved are paramount.

Amicably-reached child arrangements should be a priority. However, when this is not possible we are always prepared to act in a way that reflects of the importance of the issues at stake.

Contact Wellers Law Group LLP today so that we can advise you as to your options. For more information regarding children and divorce, please download our free guide.

Call 020 8290 7992 for our Bromley team, 01732 446374 for Sevenoaks, 020 7481 6393 for central London or 01483 284567 for our Surrey team. Alternatively email your enquiry to familylaw@wellerslawgroup.com.  We offer a fixed fee, no obligation one hour interview so that we may provide you with initial advice and suggest the options for your next course of action.