Is a child arrangement order the same as custody?

Family law issues can be complicated and difficult to manage. When it comes to the best interests of a child, for example, parental rights and obligations must be laid out in a court order known as a Child Arrangement Order.

When undergoing a separation or divorce, it’s important to make sure that the children and their future become one of your main planning priorities. Many of those going through this process worry about what kind of arrangement will be made in terms of access to the child, who they will spend time with, and who might gain ‘full custody.’

When managing this complex process, you may wonder if the terminology of ‘gaining custody’ is the right approach to use. Let’s consider that:

‘Child arrangement Orders’ serve as the new umbrella term replacing ‘custody,’ ‘child access,’ or even ‘residence arrangements.’ It seeks to make the terminology more precise so that confusion and disagreements are less likely.

A Child Arrangement Order (previously known as Contact Orders) is an order issued by the family court that sets out who a child should have contact with and where. It also outlines parental responsibility for the child's welfare, such as decisions about their medical treatment or education. It is important to remember that Child Arrangement Orders are made in the best interests of the child and not necessarily the parents. The order must meet the needs of the family, but it should also meet the needs of the child. A Child Arrangement Order is not always necessary; it is possible for parents to reach an agreement about contact and residence arrangements without applying to court. In some cases, a step-parent may apply for parental responsibility for their stepchild, but ultimately the decision is at the discretion of the court.

Family law issues can be complicated and difficult to manage. When it comes to the best interests of a child, for example, parental rights and obligations must be laid out in a court order known as a Child Arrangement Order.

But what exactly contributes to a full child arrangement order and what considerations should we plan for? Let’s consider that:

Contents

1. Your children’s main residence.

While you may have equal access to your children, they will need to be registered within the main residence. There are many variables as to how this is decided, such as their emotional, physical and educational needs, the wishes of the child concerned, and the likely effect of change.

2. Division of contact time.

If contact with the children is to be granted equally, the stipulations for how this will be undertaken, and any special considerations such as the use of supervised child contact centres, will be arranged here. This can ensure a basis and framework for how contact is to be arranged, including times, durations, and the responsibilities of both parties to prepare the child for both contact periods.

3. Any specific arrangements outside of the norm.

Depending on your child’s needs, such as their access to medication, disability support, or educational requirements, these will be stipulated here and shown to influence the final decision made. Furthermore, safeguarding concerns are a deciding factor in the final arrangement.

How long will this take?

Child arrangement orders are complex, and despite their depiction in popular media, are also thorough and nuanced. This means that a child arrangement order can take up to six to twelve months to be finalized and agreed upon - but in simple circumstances where both parties are affable, this may take less time.

Consider Family Law Mediation

When considering any application for a Child Arrangement Order, the court will take into account what it believes to be in the child's best interests. This is determined by looking at things such as any domestic abuse allegations, the capacity of each parent to care for the child, and any other issues that may have an impact on the life of the child. The court also looks at past contact arrangements and the current relationship between the parents. The court may also need to consider an assessment meeting with a mediator, as well as any other relevant factors.

When applying for a Child Arrangement Order, it is important to remember that both parents must be given time to prepare their cases before going to court. It is also important to keep in mind that any application for a court order will be processed through the family court, so you should make sure you understand the procedure and have all of the necessary mediation information available. In cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, it is important to take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your children.

Finally, remember that any application for a Child Arrangement Order must always be made in the best interests of the child, which may mean that you need to have a court order specifically detailing who has parental responsibility and with whom the child should live. No matter what your family law situation is, it's important to seek expert advice before making any decisions. This can help ensure that all rights are protected and that the best outcome is achieved for the child.

Separation suggests a difficult time for all involved, especially the children, and so using a family law mediation service to help you chart your path, make your appeals, and cultivate your legal basis is essential. Not only can this help you with your peace of mind, but will allow you to secure a better result - however you define that.

Be sure to contact us now for help with your child arrangements order.

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