A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) is a court order made by a Judge that sets out who a child should live with, spend time with, and/or communicate with. It is designed to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken into account when making decisions about their care. A CAO can be made in cases where parents are unable to agree on arrangements for their children, or where there are concerns about the safety of the child.
What does a Child Arrangements Order Cover?
A CAO will cover all aspects of a child’s life, including who they should live with, how much time they should spend with each parent, and how they should communicate with each other. It may also include provisions for contact between the child and other family members or friends. The court may also take into account any wishes expressed by the child when making its decision, depending on the child’s age and maturity.
- The court will also consider any relevant factors when deciding what type of order to make, such as:
- The wishes and feelings of the child
- The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child
- The likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances
- The age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
How is a Child Arrangements Order Enforced?
A CAO is legally binding and must be followed by both parties involved. If either party fails to comply with an order, then they may face sanctions from the court. This could include a fine, community service, imprisonment and in some cases, there could even be a change in which parent the child lives with. It is important to note that if either party does not comply with an order, then it can be enforced through civil proceedings such as contempt of court proceedings or enforcement orders.
What are the Alternatives to a Child Arrangements Order?
In some cases, it may be possible for parents to reach an agreement without involving the courts. This could involve mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR can help parents reach an agreement without having to go through lengthy and expensive court proceedings. It is important to note that any agreement reached through mediation must still be approved by a judge before it becomes legally binding.
Child Arrangements Orders are an important tool for ensuring that children’s best interests are considered when making decisions about their care. They provide clarity and certainty for both parties involved in a dispute over arrangements for children and can help avoid costly legal proceedings if both parties are willing to cooperate. However, if an agreement cannot be reached then it may be necessary to seek legal advice and apply for a CAO from the court in order to ensure that your rights as a parent are protected.