Arrangements for Children

Arrangements for Children

On the breakdown of a relationship, arrangements for any children will need to be agreed.  If parents are unable to agree these arrangements between themselves, an application will need to be made to court for a Child Arrangements Order.

Getting a child arrangement order

We will guide you through the process, signpost you to appropriate services which will be of benefit to you and your family. We will consider whether your children should be separately represented at court and instruct any independent expert the court deems necessary. We have experience of instructing a wide range of experts to assist and support our client's case.

After the court process is finalised, the parents will have a clear court order setting out the arrangements for the children; however what happens if those arrangements break down after the order is obtained?

If a parent prevents the other from spending time with the children as set out in the order without real justification, this is a breach of the order. When making a child arrangements order, the courts are required to attach a notice warning of the consequences of failing to comply with it.  The Court has a wide range of powers in the event of a breach taking place without reasonable excuse, and includes:-

  • A variation of the order to reconsider the contact arrangements or where the child should live
  • The making of an enforcement order requiring the parent in breach of the order to undertake unpaid work
  • An order for compensation for financial loss
  • A fine
  • Committal to prison

Breaching a child arrangement order

If a court is to consider a breach of the order, a party will need to make an application to the court for enforcement. When the court considers whether to make an enforcement order, the court must be satisfied that making the order is necessary and proportionate to the seriousness and frequency of the party breaching the order.

The court will consider:-

  • The reasons for the breach
  • The effect the breach will have on the child
  • The welfare of the child
  • Whether advice from CAFCASS is required on an appropriate way of moving forward.

Concern has however arisen amongst some practitioners that courts are often slow to respond to an application for enforcement and are reluctant to penalise the parent in breach; particularly if the defaulting parent is the one with whom the children live. It is felt that this sends a dangerous message in that court orders are optional, not mandatory and that the relationship with the non-resident parent is meaningless.

For more information on this subject read our blog post, Breach of child arrangements order - What should I do next?

What to expect from your first meeting with us

We have put together some guidance to give you an idea about what to expect during the initial consultation appointment and the type of information we will ask for. It has been modelled on an appointment for a client who is considering or going through a divorce, but the general principles apply to all appointments. Click HERE to download.

How we can help

We have Family Law solicitors who are recognised specialists in Children Law. Heidi Fleming has a specialist accreditation in Children Law and is a member of the Law Society's Children Panel. If you need advice on obtaining a Child Arrangement Order, please talk to our Family Law team on 0330 0945 500, email or complete our Online Contact Form and we'll get back to you.