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Child Arrangements Solicitors

We understand that dealing with child arrangements issues can be a challenging time. Our family law solicitors are here to help guide you through the process, ensuring this is dealt with as quickly and as amicably as possible.

Please contact us on 01707 329333 or email to arrange an initial appointment.

In the meantime, we have answered some frequently asked questions about child arrangements below.

People asking these questions refer to the UK, but it is important to be aware that Scotland has its own legal system. This firm operates in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. As a result, answers to questions about the UK below refer only to England and Wales. You should contact a local divorce lawyer if you need advice in other legal jurisdictions of the UK.

Child Arrangements

What is a Child Arrangements Order UK?

A Child Arrangements Order typically determines who a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact with.

These Orders tend to be used by parents as part of a separation process, where they are unable to reach agreement without the help of the court.

Most parents do not obtain a court order and are able to reach agreement between themselves or with the help of professional advice or mediation. We can advise on non-court solutions.

Every Order will be based on the circumstances of the child, their best interests and family situation.

Do I need a solicitor for a Child Arrangements Order?

There are significant benefits of instructing an experienced solicitor to assist with child arrangement matters, particularly in cases where there is a dispute regarding the arrangements for children.

You may need to make an application to Court if matters cannot be agreed. Again, this is where you will benefit from instructing a family solicitor to help you navigate through this process.

Who is entitled to apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

Anyone with Parental Responsibility can apply for a Court Order. Anyone who does not have Parental Responsibility, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, will need permission from the Court to make their application.

Why would someone get a Child Arrangements Order?

Typically, if there is no agreement as to where a child should live or when a child should spend time with the parent they do not live with, then you may  need to apply for a child arrangements Order.

Mediation and other non-court resolution options should be explored and used wherever possible. Court is a last resort for children matters.  Mediation is also a requirement (unless an exemption applies) before you can make an application to Court.

Can I refuse a Child Arrangements Order?

If you do not agree with the proposals being made for a child arrangements order, you can oppose them. This could be by offering to attend mediation. If the matter is already before the court, you should take legal advice as to the best way to present your case.

CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) are specialist social workers who will offer assistance to the family court in child arrangement proceedings. They will complete background checks and provide recommendations to the Court as to a way forward. The Court will consider carefully and take into account the CAFCASS recommendations.

If a child arrangements Order is already in place and if you then refuse to comply with  the terms of an Order, you may be subject to an enforcement Order.

What is the most common parenting arrangement?

There is no “one size fits all”. The court will consider factors such as the age of the child, home environment, location between parents, schooling arrangements, travel and working hours etc. The overriding principle is the best interest of the child.

What is a 50 50 Child Arrangements Order?

This is a common question but orders that divide a child’s time exactly equally between their parents are unusual. If parents can agree what is often called a shared care arrangement, where both play an active part in the child’s life, they usually will not need a court order. The court can set out times when a child spends time with each parent but it is not likely to specify percentages.

What is reasonable access for a parent?

This was the term used to set out the time a child spent with their parent under the old law. This term is not used now. We say “contact” or “time spent with”.

There is no definition of what “reasonable” time is. This will vary depending on the family’s circumstances.

How long does a Child Arrangements Order take?

This is a difficult question to ask, as much of this depends on the family circumstances and if an agreement can be reached.

Generally, these proceedings can take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years to be finalised.

How many hearings do you need for a Child Arrangements Order?

This depends entirely on the complexity of your case. If you can reach an agreement amicably, then the proceedings can end before a final hearing.

However, more complicated cases will take longer. If there are safeguarding issues then these will need to be explored. There may need to be a CAFCASS report or a fact-finding hearing. Consequently, the proceedings are likely to take longer.

Parties are expected to attend Court for these hearings. Special measures such as separate waiting rooms and screens in the Court room can be requested depending on your circumstances.

How much does it cost?

The Court fee for a Child Arrangements Order is £232.00. In certain circumstances, you may be entitled to financial aid to help pay this fee. Further information can be found using the following link: Get help paying court and tribunal fees – GOV.UK (

Solicitors’ fees will be separate to this fee. Your solicitor will provide you with a costs estimate based on your particular case. Please contact us for more information about our estimated fees for assisting with your child arrangements matter.

Costs can be thousands of pounds, depending on the case. Mediation is much less expensive and should be considered before the issue of proceedings.

How do child arrangements orders work?

An Order may set out:

  • where the child will reside; and
  • how/when the child can spend time with the other parent.

As soon as the court approves the Child Arrangements Order, it becomes legally binding and both parents must comply. A final Order will attach a warning notice. The warning notice sets out the consequences for breaching an Order.

An order for a child to live with a person lasts until a child turns 18. An Order for a child to spend time with a person lasts until the child turns 16. The Court will not make an Order for a 16 or 17 year old to live with a person unless exceptional circumstances apply.

If one party does not comply with the arrangements, you may be able to apply to the Court to enforce an Order.

Furthermore, if variations to an Order are agreed, you can follow the variations without needing to re-apply to the Court for formal variation of an Order. If you cannot agree, then you will need to apply to vary the Order.

Your Local Children Law Solicitors

If you are looking to create a Child Arrangements Order or would like any further information surrounding this matter, the family team at Crane & Staples would be delighted to help you.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01707 329333 or


Article written by Juliette Fletcher

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