The legal agreement between the court and the child’s parents or guardians is called a child arrangement order. It is a decision that names the parent with whom the child is going to live.
This person has Parental Responsibility for the child as long as the order is in effect. When the child turns 16, the order becomes null and void. As a young adult, he or she can now choose where to live. Child arrangement orders can be discharged sooner through another court order or by a Care Order. The non-custodial parent is given the privilege of contacting the child.
Prerequisites before the application for a child arrangement order
You and your ex-spouse must attend the compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The mediation determines the probability of making an agreement regarding the best interests of the child who needs a loving and harmonious relationship with both of you. When mediation does not work, one of you can apply for a child arrangement order.
You need the MIAM form to apply for one, showing that you both attended the mediation intervention. However, there are circumstances wherein mediation is not appropriate like the occurrence of domestic abuse or if one of you is not willing to attend it. You can ask for a signed form explaining the exemption.
Eligible individuals who can apply for a child arrangement order
- Any of the biological pa1rents
- Anyone with a Parental Responsibility like a step-parent, grandparent, or guardian.
- A responsible adult bearing a Residence Order for the child.
Parties who do not have a Parental Responsibility need to request a court order to secure one. A Parental Responsibility Agreement with one of the parents is also accepted.
Factors that influence the court’s decision
The court decides based on the submitted evidence and witnesses’ testimonies. All the circumstances of the case will be considered objectively to determine if both parents should have an equal right or who the child will live with.
A CAFCASS Officer who serves as the “eyes” and “ears” of the court is tasked to spend time with the family to study the living scenarios. After the visitation, he will submit a detailed report along with a recommendation to make a court decision.
The court also considers the feelings and wishes of the child when he is mature enough to understand what is going on. Other factors include the child’s special needs and educational needs as well as the possible effects on his well-being when the change in circumstances is enforced.
Once the child arrangement order is granted, it will last until s/he is 16 years old, or until 18 due to exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, the conditions of the child arrangement orders can be changed when one of you is not amenable to it. The variation requires another court order, where the facts will be reassessed to justify the amendment of the order. In the event that you and your ex-spouse reconcile and live together in one home, the child arrangement order will cease after 6 months.