What Should I Know About Child Arrangement Orders?

When parents separate, one of the most crucial aspects to resolve is the living arrangements for their children. This is where child arrangement orders come into play. Understanding what they are and how they work can make a significant difference in ensuring the best outcome for your child. In this blog, we’ll cover the essentials of child arrangement orders, the role of family mediation, and the available mediation services in Derby, Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Tamworth, and Nottingham.

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

A child arrangement order (CAO) is a legal document issued by a family court in England and Wales. It outlines where a child will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and other related matters. CAOs replace the older concepts of residence and contact orders. These orders ensure that the child’s welfare is prioritized, providing a clear framework for parents to follow.

Key Components of a Child Arrangement Order

  • Living Arrangements: Specifies where the child will live.
  • Contact Arrangements: Details how and when the child will spend time with the non-resident parent.
  • Decision-Making: Clarifies who has the responsibility for making important decisions about the child’s upbringing.

The Importance of Family Mediation

Family mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps separated parents reach an agreement on child arrangements without going to court. Mediation aims to reduce conflict and encourage cooperation, which is beneficial for the child’s well-being.

How Family Mediation Works

  1. Initial Meeting: Both parents attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to understand how mediation can help.
  2. Mediation Sessions: If both agree to proceed, several sessions are held to discuss and resolve issues. The mediator facilitates these discussions, helping parents find common ground.
  3. Reaching an Agreement: The mediator drafts a written agreement based on the discussions, which can be made legally binding through a consent order.

Benefits of Family Mediation

  • Less Stressful: Mediation is less formal and adversarial than court proceedings.
  • Cost-Effective: It’s generally cheaper than going to court.
  • Quicker Resolutions: Agreements can often be reached more quickly than through court processes.
  • Confidential: Mediation is a private process, keeping family matters out of the public domain.

How to Obtain a Child Arrangement Order

If mediation does not result in an agreement, parents may need to apply for a child arrangement order from the court. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

  1. Application: One parent applies for a CAO by submitting a C100 form to the family court.
  2. First Hearing: Both parents attend a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) where the judge assesses the case.
  3. Further Hearings: If necessary, further hearings may be scheduled to resolve the issues. The court may also order a CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) report to assess the child’s needs.
  4. Final Order: The court issues a final order outlining the agreed arrangements.

Tips for Successful Family Mediation

  1. Be Prepared: Come to mediation sessions with a clear idea of what you want to achieve. List your priorities and be ready to discuss them openly.
  2. Stay Focused on the Child: Always keep the child’s best interests at the forefront of discussions. This can help in reaching an agreement that benefits everyone.
  3. Be Open to Compromise: Mediation is about finding a middle ground. Be willing to listen and compromise where necessary.
  4. Communicate Clearly: Express your concerns and needs clearly and calmly. Effective communication can prevent misunderstandings and build trust.

Legal Support and Advice

While mediation is a crucial step, having legal support can also be beneficial. Solicitors can provide advice on your rights and help you understand the implications of any agreements made. They can also assist in drafting the consent order to ensure it is legally binding.

Finding the Right Mediator

Choosing the right mediator is important for a successful mediation process. Look for accredited mediators with experience in family law, like Family Law Mediation. Personal recommendations and online reviews can also help in making an informed decision.

Resources and Support

There are numerous resources available to help parents navigate the complexities of child arrangement orders and family mediation:

  • Family Mediation Council: Provides information on finding accredited mediators and understanding the mediation process.
  • CAFCASS: Offers support and advice on child welfare and court proceedings.
  • Citizens Advice: Provides free legal advice and information on family law matters.

Ensuring the Best Outcome for Your Child

Understanding child arrangement orders and the role of family mediation is crucial for separated parents. These tools help ensure that children’s needs are met in a way that minimises conflict and promotes cooperation between parents. Utilising mediation services in Derby, Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Tamworth, and Nottingham can assist families through these challenging times.

For more information or professional assistance, you can contact Family Law Mediation at 0116 4422 989.

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Family Law Mediation Leicester (Head Office)

First Floor

60 Charles Street



Opening Times

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Weekend appointments are available on request

*We can offer a limited number of pre-arranged mediation sessions outside of office hours subject to agreement and availability. All mediation sessions are held either at our offices or remotely via video conferencing software e.g. Zoom.


Family Law Mediation Leicester (Head Office)
First Floor
60 Charles Street
Tel: 01164 422 989


Family Law mediation Nottingham
Castle Cavendish Works
Dorking Road
Tel: 0115 772 0299


Family Law Mediation Derby
38 St Peter's Churchyard
Tel: 01332 492 988

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