Advice on Child Arrangement Orders

Disputes regarding children can be the most contentious and difficult aspects of family law disputes regardless of the composition of the family. Whether you are parents, grandparents or another interested party, in children matters it is often important that you receive bespoke legal advice quickly to ensure that children are appropriately safeguarded and you receive the advice required to progress matters for your case.

At Ison Harrison we have a wealth of experience in children matters both private (where the Local Authority and/or Social Care are not involved) and public law matters (where the Local Authority and/or Social Care are involved). We are confident that we will be able to assist you and your case, providing you with practical, commercial and child focused legal advice at each and every step of your case. Please be aware we offer urgent and short notice appointments for appropriate cases.

With our assistance, our Solicitors will help you decide the best way forward to allow you to make an informed choice, whether that be informally through Solicitors, Mediation or Court.

Some important facts you need to be aware of:

  • In private children law disputes the types of orders a Court usually makes are: (i) Child Arrangement Orders (formerly Residence or Contact Orders); (ii) Specific Issue Orders; and (iii) Prohibited Steps Orders.
  • If paternity of a child is an issue, your Solicitor may advise you to seek an application for a declaration of parentage. Please speak to our Solicitors in this regard if you believe this is an issue.
  • When a party refers to ‘custody’, what they are referring to is with whom the child shall live. This was formerly known as Residence.
  • Child Arrangement Order specifies with whom a child should live and what time, if any, they should spend with the other party.
  • Specific Issue Orders are made by the Court to determine a specific issue in dispute. Common specific issue applications include:
    • whether a child should have a specific type of medical treatment where agreement cannot be reached;
    • what school should a child attend where agreement cannot be reached;
    • whether a child should be known by a new name; and
    • whether a child should go on holiday.
  • Prohibited Step Order are made by the Court to prevent one party exercising their parental responsibility in a way which they otherwise would be allowed. Prohibited Steps Orders are often made in circumstances:
    • To prevent one party removing a child from the care or control of another without their prior agreement;
    • To prevent a party removing a child either temporarily or permanently in or out of the country;
    • To prevent a change of name; and
    • To prevent contact with a person who is a danger to a child.
  • Mothers have parental responsibility by virtue of giving birth to a child. Father’s (and other persons) acquire parental responsibility in one of various ways. If you are unclear whether you have parental responsibility please speak to one of our family Solicitors who will be able to advise you in this regard and what steps, if any, are required to obtain it.
  • Any agreement you reach with the other party directly, through mediation or through Solicitors is not binding unless it is made as an Order of the Court.
  • In ordinary cases if you instruct our Solicitors to issue proceedings at Court, the first hearing that will take place in 4-6 weeks’ time. This hearing is known as a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment.
  • When proceedings at Court a Cafcass Officer will be appointed to your case. A Cafcass Officer is a person allocated to the case from the Children and Family Court Advisory Service. Cafcass’ offer a view and a voice for the children involved in Court matters, investigating matters on behalf of the Court and making recommendations with what orders, if any, that should be made.