Child Arrangements Order

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What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) is an order that settles arrangements for a child or children that relate to the following:

  • with whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact
  • when the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person

Contact simply means the time a child spends time with an adult. Contact may take place in several ways:

  • direct contact between the child and the person named in the order
  • overnight staying contact
  • telephone contact
  • supervised contact, and
  • indirect contact through letters or cards

The court can also order no contact.

Applying for a Child Arrangements Order

If there are difficulties with arrangements for the children then we recommend not delaying in trying to organise Mediation which should first be proposed as a method of trying to agree a child schedule in most cases, before taking court action.

Mediation is an excellent alternative to court but if there is no movement forward and positions are fixed, then often delay is not helpful for all involved. A court application is usually the best option.

More details on Child Arrangements Orders

A Child Arrangements Order may also show the person with whom a child is to live, but not specifically where.

A CAO may provide for the child or children to live with one parent only or it could be with both.

A CAO that provides for a child to live with both parents does not necessarily mean the child or children’s time will be spent equally between the parents. It is a statement that the child or children have a home with both parents. It is also a reflection of the parents’ equal status in the eyes of the court. The child or children may still spend more time at one home than the other and the Child Arrangements Order will often state in detail the schedule.

A CAO that regulates where a child is to live will usually last until the child is 18. A CAO that regulates when a child is to have contact with a person will usually end when the child is 16 but in limited circumstances can last until the child is 18.

A child’s parent can apply for a CAO. A step-parent, guardian or anyone with whom the child has been living for at least three out of the last five years, including the last three months can also apply for a CAO. Other people may apply for a CAO if they get consent of everyone with parental responsibility or permission of the court.

Our blogpost on Child Arrangements Orders

We believe you will find our blogpost 'Doing the right thing for your children: Child Arrangement Orders' of interest, it has a less legalistic approach to explaining Child Arrangements Orders.

We can assist you regarding a Child Arrangements Order


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