Child arrangements and help from Mckenzie friend

Enter subtitle here

    Child arrangements and help from a Mckenzie friend 

    A child arrangement order is an order that specifies where a child should live and/or the amount of time they should spend with another named person, such as a parent or other relative. The arrangements set out in the order will be based on the circumstances of the individual child's best interests and family situation and so there is no "one size fits all".

    Child arrangement orders tend to be used by the child's parents as part of the separation process; however, they are also used by other people.

    The circumstances surrounding a child arrangements order vary depending on each individual family and situation.

    To make the arrangements clear and legally binding, some people enter into a child arrangement order by agreement, called a consent order. However, an order is usually applied for where arrangements cannot be agreed, or a person has encountered issues with previously agreed arrangements not being complied with.


    Who can apply for a child arrangement order

    Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a child arrangement order. This can include:

    • A parent, guardian or special guardian.
    • A step-parent or another person who has parental responsibility for the child by way of a parental responsibility order or agreement.
    • Anyone who has a 'live with' child arrangements order in their favour already.
    • Any person who has parental responsibility by being named in a child arrangement order for the child to have contact/spend time with them.

    The following other people can also apply:

    • A person who has the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility for the child, or everyone who has a 'live with' order in their favour.
    • Any person in a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family.
    • If the child is in local authority care, a person who has the authority's consent.
    • A foster parent or other relative, if the child has lived with them for one year immediately before making the application.
    • Anyone who the child has lived with for a period of three years.

    Anyone who falls outside of the above will require the permission of the court to apply. This includes extended family members such as grandparents, uncles and aunts if none of the above apply to them.

    How long is the arrangement order valid for

    An order for a child to live with a person lasts until the 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.

    Who decides where the child spends their time

    Parents should try and decide arrangements between themselves in the first instance. If this is not possible, the court will make the decision if asked to.

    Who decides the best interests of the child, on what grounds

    If the child's parents cannot reach an agreement either one of them can apply to the Court. The court will have to decide what is in the child's best interests and will consider certain factors known as the welfare checklist:

    • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child (in light of their age and understanding)
    • The child's physical, emotional and educational needs
    • The likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances
    • The child's age, sex and background and any other characteristics the court considers relevant
    • Any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
    • How capable the child's parents (or other relevant person) is of meeting their needs
    • The range of powers available to the court

    Does the child have a say in who they live with

    This depends on the child's age, so generally, the older they are, the more weight will be given to their wishes and feelings, but this isn't the only factor the court will consider.

    Your court deals with child arrangement orders

    An application should be made to the court most local to the child who will be subject to the application. For example, for a child residing in the Warwickshire area, the local court would be Coventry.

    What are the types of child arrangement orders

    A child arrangements order sets out who the child should live with and/or spend time with. However, there are two other types of order the Court can make which sometimes get confused with a child arrangements order. These are a prohibited steps order and specific issue order.

    Do I need a prohibited steps order

    This is very specific and depends entirely on your situation. If you think you may need an order because another person with parental responsibility intends to do something against your wishes, you should seek specialist advice as soon as possible.

    How do I stop a prohibited steps order

    If an order is made without giving you notice, you will need to apply to the court to vary or discharge it. If an application is made on notice to you, you will have the opportunity of opposing this at a hearing.

    I don't want my child's surname 

    The consent of each person with parental responsibility is required to change a child's name. If you oppose a request to change your child's name, the person seeking the change will have to apply to the court for an order permitting them to make the change.

    Prohibited steps order vs child arrangement order

    A child arrangement order deals with who the child shall live with and spend time with and when. A prohibited steps order is an injunctive order to stop a person from carrying out a specific action.

    Specific issue order

    The other type of order is a specific issue order, which, as the name suggests, is an order to determine a specific question or issue that has arisen in relation to a child's upbringing, which the parties cannot agree upon. This could include decisions around taking a child abroad or the medical treatment of a child. 

Read more: here...