HOW CAN YOUR BARRISTER HELP YOU AS A LITIGANT IN PERSON
INFORMATION ON CHILD ARRANGEMENT ORDER
RESPONSIBILITY OF A LITIGANT IN PERSON
Important Note: Please note that this information is not intended to be legal advice. You are advised to seek legal advice.
This information provides an overview on a child arrangement order.
Child Arrangement Order
A Child Arrangement Order is an order that regulates with whom a child shall live (residence) and the frequency and amount of spend time with each parent or otherwise have contact, and otherwise have contact with any other person.
Each Child Arrangement Order is decided on the circumstances of the individual family case and on what is in the best interests of that particular child. This means that there is no such thing as a ‘usual’ arrangement.
What if the parties agree to depart from the arrangements set out in the Child Arrangement Order?
If all parties to the Child Arrangement Order are in agreement about any changes, it would not be a breach of the order to depart from its terms, as long as the order allows for this.You must ensure that you read the order and comply with the order.
However, the parties must be aware that the changes by mutual agreement are not legally binding unless the Court formally varies the order. This means that if the informal agreement comes to an end at any point, the parties will have to revert back to the original order. Your barrister can provide legal advice and guidance on the merits of a prospective variation of an order sought.
Variation to a Child Arrangement Order
The Court is aware that family circumstances change over time and that children’s needs change as they get older, therefore it is possible to apply for variation of an existing Child Arrangement Order where there are significant change in circumstances and/or where the terms of the order are no longer reflective of the child’s needs and welfare requirements.
The person making the application will have to demonstrate that their proposed changes are in the child’s best interests.
Your barrister can provide you with legal advice on the case preparation of an application to vary a Child Arrangement Order.
Breach of a Child Arrangement Order
The Court does not monitor Child Arrangement Orders once the final order has been made and therefore would not be aware of any breaches unless a formal application for enforcement is made.
The Court will only make an Enforcement Order if it is satisfied so that it is sure that a person has failed to comply with the order.
The Court will not make an Order for Enforcement unless it is sure and wherethere is a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the Order, it is more likely thannot that the application will fail.
When making an Enforcement Order, the Court can sanction the person with a warning, fine, community service, or a prison sentence.
Your barrister can provide you with legal advice on case preparation when you are making an application for enforcement of a child arrangement order.
Change of a child’s surname or removal from the jurisdiction where a Child Arrangement Order is in force
When a Child Arrangement Order is in force, the person with whom the child is to live, is automatically permitted to remove the child out of England and Wales for up to one month without the consent of the other party.
Some orders may put specific conditions on this, such as having to give a certain amount of notice to the other party or having to give them specific details about the holiday. The person who the child spends time with or has contact with does not get the same right to take the child out of the country. This means they will need to get consent from the other party or permission from the Court. Your barrister can provide you with legal advice and guidance where there is a potential risk that the child may be removed for longer periodsand/or without your permission.
The order will also state that neither party can allow the child to be known by a new surname unless they have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility or leave of the Court.
Duration of a Child Arrangement Order
The contact arrangements set out in a Child Arrangement Order remain legally binding until the child reaches the age of 16 unless the order specifically states otherwise.
After this point it will be up to the child to decide how much contact they would like to have with the parent they do not live with.
The ‘live with’ element of a Child Arrangement Order remains legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18, however the Court is very reluctant to enforce such orders beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Chambers of Helen Alexander-Direct Public Access-Family Court Barrister