Child Arrangements Orders

The Government felt that parents made applications for residence and contact orders because the status of having such an order was more important than there was a real dispute about the substance of the matter. In order to prevent unnecessary applications from 22 April 2014 residence and contact orders were abolished and replaced by “child arrangements orders”. These are defined as orders:

“(a) with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact, and

(b) when a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person;”

Thus in fact there are two types of child arrangements orders, namely those providing

  1. with whom a child is to live and when and
  2. with whom, when and how a child is to spend time or otherwise have contact with someone.

These do not look too dissimilar to residence and contact orders respectively and indeed the consequential amendments in legislation replace “residence order” with “an order providing with whom the child is to live or when the child is to live with any person” and “contact order” with “an order providing with whom the child is to spend time or otherwise have contact” (or variations of this).

Since in our experience lawyers and judges still talk about “primary carers”, it seems that this legislative change has done little but to make the Children Act 1989 unintelligible to all but lawyers.

As the considerations for the court for making orders about where a child should live and what time the child should spend with a parent are different from each other, we have set out the law on different pages about

It is of course always best to try to avoid court proceedings because the judge can only make an order, but cannot physically oversee the time a child spends with each parent. An order does not enforce itself and if someone does not comply with the order or takes a “work-to-rule” approach, matters can continue to be difficult. There will also be issues arising in the future of a child’s life where parents have to work together.

Mediation is an inexpensive way to find solutions outside the court system and it is particularly suitable to resolve issues about children. This is why it is compulsory for anyone who wants to make an application to the court for a child arrangements order to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) first (with some exceptions). Our support page has a wealth of resources for parents to help them to parent together successfully, nurturing their child.

For advice on your specific circumstances contact Andrea Woelke at Alternative Family Law: ring us on 020 7407 4007 (+44 20 7407 4007 from abroad) or us (stating your full name, the full name of the other person in your case and your telephone number on which we can call you).

Please note that we do not have a contract to take on cases on legal aid. To check if you may be able to get legal aid please go to this government website and contact a solicitor who has a legal aid contract.


10 February 2015 by Andrea Woelke