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Child Arrangements

When parents (married, unmarried or same sex) separate, consideration needs to be given to the arrangements for any children such as where and with whom they are going to live, whether they need to change school and how often they will see the other parent. These arrangements should be agreed between the parents wherever possible.

What if we cannot agree?

We can apply to court on your behalf for a Child Arrangement Order (formerly Residence and Contact Orders). Assistance should be sought from a trained Family Mediator, who maybe able to help you and your ex-partner reach agreement, as it is compulsory that mediation has been attempted before making an application, save in certain situations where there is domestic abuse, child protection concerns or in an emergency.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

A mother, father (with or without parental responsibility), step-parent (including those in a civil partnership) and any person with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years.

There are a few other significant people, such as a grandparent, who are entitled to make an application, but only if they are initially granted permission from the court to do so.

What will the court take into consideration?

The court will consider a number of factors when deciding whether or not to make an order such as:-

  • the wishes and feelings of the child concerned, taking into account the age and understanding of the child
  • The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child
  • The age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
  • any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • how capable each parent, or any other person, is of meeting the needs of the child

The court will always consider the best interests of the child when making any decision but generally the involvement of each parent in the life of the child will be considered to be in the child's best interests, unless the contrary is shown.

The court may also make a direction requiring an individual to take part in an activity that would help to establish, maintain or improve their involvement in the life of the child concerned. This may include a requirement to attend parenting classes or counselling sessions. Both parents may be ordered to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).

SPIP is a course which helps you understand how to put your children first while you are separating, even though you may be in dispute with your child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties. You will not attend the same session as your ex. In some areas it is free to attend.

If there are allegations of abuse or violence, the court may direct that the contact should be supervised.

If you would like advice about arrangements for a child, please call us on 03300 245750 or email at


I would like to say thank you to Liz and Julie for all their hard work and understanding, nothing was to much trouble. Always very pleasant, and helpful on phone. Once Again, Thank you.

Tracey Brown

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03300 245750
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I am really thankful for everything that Laura and Julie did for us. Laura kept us well informed and each stage of the process was explained putting our minds at ease. Our Grandchildren’s future is now secure thanks to Laura. The whole office is great. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending them.

Faye, Worksop