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Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

View profile for Hannah Craven
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Any parent is automatically entitled to apply for a Child Arrangements Order irrespective of whether they have parental responsibility for the child or not. If you are the guardian or special guardian for a child, you can also apply.

There are certain circumstances where an applicant will need the permission of the Court to make an application, for example grandparents or other family members. In these instances, an application will need to be made to obtain permission to make an application.

Not sure what a Child Arrangements Order is? Take a look at our blog “What is a Child Arrangements Order and Why would I Need One?”.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

The Court has the power to make a Child Arrangements Order pursuant to section 10(1)(a) of the Children Act 1989. The legislation also sets out who can apply for an Order automatically, and those who will require “leave” i.e. the Court’s permission.

Interestingly, it is possible for the Court to make a Child Arrangements Order of its own volition. This may arise where there are ongoing proceedings, and the Court becomes concerned about the welfare of a child(ren) subject to those proceedings.

Call us on 01924 290029 if you need advice on
applying for a Child Arrangements Order

As aforementioned, the following people can apply for a Child Arrangements Order in the usual way without the Court’s permission:

  • Parents and step-parents;
  • Guardians;
  • Special guardians;
  • Anybody who has acquired parental responsibility for a child whether by an Order or a Parental Responsibility Agreement;
  • Anybody who is named in a Child Arrangements Order as the person with whom that child is to live with;
  • Anybody who has the consent of everybody with parental responsibility for a child;
  • Where the child is under the care of the local authority, anybody who has the consent of the local authority;
  • Any person with whom the child has lived with for a period of three years;
  • Any person who has acquired parental responsibility for a child by being named in a Child Arrangements Order as the person with whom the child is to spend time with.

Any individuals who do not fall into one of the above categories, will need to first apply to the Court for permission. Those individuals will usually be relatives such as grandparents or other family members.

How to Apply to the Court for Permission to Apply for a Child Arrangements Order

To obtain permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order you are required to complete and submit a C100 form. This form can be completed online via the link below.

Click here to access the C100 form on the website.

This is the formal application form to request a Court to make child arrangements and it is this same form you should complete if you require permission to make the application. All you must do is check the appropriate box on the form that asks, “Are you asking for permission to make this application, where that is required?” and subsequently complete a further section within the form giving your reasons for asking for permission.

Once an application has been made, the Court will list a preliminary hearing to determine whether to grant the applicant permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. Every case turns on its own facts, but the Court will consider the following:

  1. The nature of the proposed application;
  2. The applicant’s connection with the child;
  3. Whether or not the application causes any disruption to the child’s life to such a degree that they would be harmed by the application; and
  4. In circumstances where the child is being looked after by the local authority, the local authorities plans for the child and the views of the parents.

The above will be at the forefront of either the Judge or bench of Magistrates when considering whether to grant the applicant leave to make an application.

How much does a Child Arrangement Order cost?

There is a Court fee of £232.00*.  However, there are certain situations in which you may be ‘fee exempt’ and do not have to pay this Court fee. In addition to the Court fee there will be the associated legal fees payable to the solicitor.

We can help you ascertain whether you might be exempt from the Court fee and also provide a guide on the legal fees that may be applicable to your case. Call us on 01924 290029 for more information and one of our experts will be happy to help.

*correct at date of publication

Can a Child Arrangements Order be amended?

In short, yes. A Child Arrangements Order can be amended informally between the parties. It is always advised to agree and confirm the amendments in writing. Alternatively, you can make a formal application to Court to vary the Order.

How long does a Child Arrangements Order last for?

The contact arrangements set out within a Child Arrangements Order, i.e. the parts which deal with how often the child spends time with their parent(s), will be legally binding until the child reaches the age of 16, unless the Order specifically states otherwise. This is in line with section 91(10) of the Children Act 1989. Once a child reaches the age of 16, the family court is usually satisfied that the child can then decide how much contact they would like to have with the parent they do not live with.

On the other hand, the ‘live with’ element of a Child Arrangements Order, i.e. the part which states which parent the child is to live with, will be legally binding until the child is 18 years old. This is largely due to the fact that, in the context of the Children Act 1989, a child means a person under the age of 18. In reality, however, the family court is very reluctant to enforce these orders beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If the Court does grant leave then the application will be listed for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing, often referred to as a FHDRA.

It is important to note that an application to Court is always considered to be a last resort. The Court are keen for parties in dispute to resolve their issues outside of the Court arena. However, regrettably in some circumstances, it does become necessary for an application to be made and for the Court to intervene.

Interestingly, there exists in law a statutory presumption that the involvement of a parent in a child’s life furthers their welfare. Provided there are no safeguarding concerns, that relationship should always be promoted and maintained.  In practice, I have seen the Courts take a similar view in circumstances where say a grandparent has raised a child and been an integral part of their growth and development. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and the Court will always act in the best interests of a child.

It can be seen from the above, that there are multiple categories of individuals who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order for a child.  However, every case is unique, and it is always advised to speak with a specialist for advice before making an application. Court proceedings must always be a last resort where every avenue of resolving matters has been exhausted.

How do I apply for a Child Arrangement Order?

If you are looking to make an application to Court and require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our team. We can help guide you through the process and can even help with mediation, which is required prior to making an application.

Westbourne House, 99 Lidgett Lane, Garforth, Leeds, LS25 1LJ
Tel: 0113 246 4423

25 Bank Street, Ossett, WF5 8PS
Tel: 01924 586466

Sherburn in Elmet
6 Finkle Hill, Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds, LS25 6EA
Tel: 01977 350500

Bank House, 1 Burton Street, Wakefield, WF1 2GF
Tel: 01924 290029

About Hannah Craven

Hannah is a Family Law Solicitor at Thornton Jones Solicitors. Hannah joined Thornton Jones in early 2017 after gaining valuable experience at both Irwin Mitchell and Stewarts Law. She commenced her training to become a Solicitor in early November 2017 and qualified as a Solicitor in June 2019. She subsequently joined the Family Law team here at Thornton Jones and specialises in helping couples navigate the Court process when separating and divorcing.