Child Law Advice and Legal Assistance

We Help You Settle Disputes & Find the Best Solution for Your Family

A divorce or separation can put tremendous emotional strain on your children. GoodLaw Solicitors LLP can help you settle disputes regarding contact rights and find the best solution for your family. We also deal with other aspects of child law, including special guardianship, same sex parents and modern families, and international child abduction and contact arrangements. We are based in Hove and serve clients across the South East.

Making Arrangements for Your Children

As with many aspects of family law, making arrangements for your children following a divorce or separation can be an extremely emotional experience. In these cases, the emphasis of the law is that it is better for the parents to agree to the arrangements between themselves rather than involve the court, because the parents after all, know what is best for their children. In some cases, these discussions can become heated and uncomfortable and so, it may become necessary to involve a solicitor or mediator to assist.

In situations where an agreement is not possible, or if the matter is urgent and a child is at a risk of significant harm, we can also make an application to the court. As with much of our work, we aim to resolve a vast majority of our cases without the need to attend or even involve the court, and crucially, without causing great distress to the children concerned. We can, of course, also deal with matters on an emergency basis where necessary, and take steps to ensure your children remain safe and protected.

We are also proud members of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

We Can Advise You on:

  • Child abduction, both domestic and international
  • Relocating with your children in the UK or abroad
  • Arrangements for children, also known as contact, residence or custody issues
  • Specific issues such as a schooling or medical dispute
  • Prohibited steps orders to prevent a child’s parent from removing the child from the other parent’s care
  • Involvement of social services
  • Declarations of parentage or paternity issues
  • Same-sex parentage and modern families
  • Parental responsibility
  • Special guardianship – the care of a child by someone other than their parents
  • Grandparent’s rights or the rights of family members

Free 30-minute initial consultation in qualifying circumstances.

Arrangements for Children

What are Child arrangements orders?

Child arrangements orders (CAO) regulate with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact and when a child will live, spend time or otherwise have contact with a person. For example, if you and your partner have separated and you want your child to live with you, but cannot agree on this, then you will need to apply to the court for a CAO regulating your child’s living arrangements. Alternatively if you have agreed that your child will live with one parent but cannot agree the amount of time that your child will spend with the non-resident parent, you will need to apply to the court for a CAO regulating contact arrangements. A CAO regulating contact arrangements requires the person with whom the child lives to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order, or for that person and the child to otherwise have contact with each other. The order will set out when the child is to spend time or otherwise have contact with the person named in the order.

What are the benefits of having a child arrangements order naming you as the person with whom the child is to live?

Being named as a person with whom a child is to live in a CAO, means that you have the right to take the child abroad for up to one month without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the court. A parent who is not named as the person with whom the child lives in a CAO does not have this right.

Orders regulating contact arrangements

If you and your former partner cannot agree on contact arrangements or if the parent with whom the child lives is unreasonably preventing contact from taking place, it will be necessary to apply to the court for a CAO to settle these arrangements. The court may order any of the following types of contact to take place under a CAO:-

Direct and indirect contact arrangements

Direct contact arrangements involve the child having contact with a named person by staying with or visiting them. Indirect contact is where the contact takes place by letter, e-mail, Skype, text or telephone. Indirect contact arrangements are ordered if it is not appropriate for the child to see the person directly (for example, where there is a potential risk to the child).

Overnight and visiting contact arrangements

Direct contact arrangements can involve the child visiting the person named in a CAO for a few hours or staying with them overnight. Contact arrangements can also be phased. If the child has spent no time with the non-resident parent, contact arrangements may begin as indirect arrangements by letter or email to reintroduce the child to the absent parent, progressing to visiting contact for a few hours. Contact arrangements can gradually be extended to longer periods of time, ultimately leading to overnight stays.

Supervised and unsupervised contact arrangements

If the court considers that there is a risk to the child’s welfare through direct or indirect contact arrangements, it can order contact arrangements to be supervised by a third party, such as in a contact centre. If there are no welfare concerns, contact arrangements are likely to be unsupervised.

When Do Child Arrangements Orders Come to an End?

CAO regulating contact will continue until the child is 16 years old, or 18 years old in exceptional circumstances. The court can also stipulate the duration in the order. CAO regulating with whom the child is to live or when the child is to live with any person or both continue until the child is 18 years old. CAO end automatically if a child’s parents live together for a continuous period of more than six months.

For more information about Child Arrangements Orders, please contact us or download our guide here

GoodLaw Solicitors – Family Law Solicitors in Surrey & Sussex

Call us to discuss your requirements. Call 01273 956 270