The breakdown of a marriage can be a very difficult time for all, especially when there are children involved. The care for the children is always a top priority. At Integra Solicitors, our law team are sensitive to the needs of the children and will do our upmost to ensure things run as smoothly as possible for them.
Child Arrangement Order
A Child Arrangement Order, CAO, determines who the child/children will live with, when and how they will have contact with the other parent and whether supervised contact or indirect contact is required.
The CAO may state that the child/children is to live with one parent only, or they may have equal time between both households.
Who Can Apply For A Child Arrangement Order?
Either biological parent may apply for a CAO. Likewise a step-parent or legal guardian whom the child has been living with for at least three of the last five years may also apply. Others who wish to apply for a CAO must have the consent of those with parental responsibility or permission from the court.
Ordinarily the order will last until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the court orders an earlier date. The CAO that regulates contact with the child will usually expire when that child reaches the age of 16, but in certain instances can last until they turn 18.
How is the Child Arrangement Order Determined?
The Children Act 1989 provides a list of considerations to assist the court in making a decision, but the priority will always be the welfare of the child.
The court will take into account:
- The wishes and feelings of the child/children concerned if they are of an age that they can declare this.
- The effect on the child if the court decision were to change their circumstances.
- The age, sex and any other characteristics that are relevant about the child.
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
- Any risks to the child’s safety or any harm that the child has suffered to date.
- The parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs.
Above all the court will need to determine that the order is in the best interests of the child/children concerned.