We all know that separation and divorce proceedings can be potentially difficult. They’re emotionally tricky for the parties involved – but they also have an impact on children, too. Of course, your children are the ones who you want to protect most during this process. This is why the child arrangements you come to post separation for children are so important.
Ideally you will be able to agree child arrangements together or with the assistance of a mediator but if that is not possible, then a Child Arrangements Order from the family courts is usually necessary.
In this blogpost, we’ll be taking you through what a Child Arrangements Order is, and how you can go about making sure your child is supported and catered for during and after separation/divorce.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) puts in place arrangements for a child or children if you unable to agree, in relation to:
- Living arrangements (when and with whom the child lives). This might be one parent or both, and the time doesn’t need to be split equally.
- The time a child spends with a parent (used to be called a Contact Order}.
The CAO will ‘record’ with whom the child or children are living with presently and then sometimes go on to order whom they will live with until they are 18.
It will also regulate the time a child or children spends with another parent or other type of contact until they are 16 (sometimes 18 in special circumstances).
You may be wondering what the courts mean by “contact”, and what exactly this entails. In fact, there are a number of different kinds of contact, such as:
- Spending time with or direct contact (face to face)
- Overnight stays and holidays
- Telephone & video calls (Skype/Facetime)
- Supported contact
- Supervised contact
- Indirect contact (letters and cards)
A CAO will specify who will have what form of contact with the children, and how much.
Who can apply for a CAO?
If you are the child’s parent, you can apply for a CAO. However, there are also circumstances in which you can apply for a CAO, even if you’re not the child’s parent.
For instance, if you are a step-parent or guardian, or if the child has been living with you for at least three out of the last five years, you are able to apply. You can also start the process of applying for a CAO if you have the consent of everyone with parental responsibility, or permission of the court.
If you are a grandparent, you can apply for permission from the family court to make a court application for a CAO.
We hope that this post has helped you to understand what a CAO (child arrangements order) is, and how it works.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to call the team at Family Law Decisions or fill out one of our simple contact forms and we can provide a free confidential consultation where we will do our best to help!