Child Contact & Residence

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What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order regulates arrangements for a child that can be for any of the following

Who/when the child is to live with or otherwise have contact

What type of contact to take place

Direct contact between the child and person named in the order

Overnight stays

Supervised contact

Indirect contact such as letters or cards

What is the process of a child arrangement order?

It is not always possible to reach an agreement about contact with the children or with what parent they should live with. If these decisions are not reached you can apply to the court for an order.

Before you do this, you are required to attend a meeting with a mediator to see whether mediation might be suitable instead of going to court.

The requirement applies unless there are certain exceptions such as issues relating to the safety of the child or domestic violence.

The other party to the proceedings will be encouraged to attend mediation.

An application is made on a court form which sets out the details of all children and adults in the case. The application will then require you to say what orders you are asking the court to make and why.

Will I see my child after the first hearing?

This unfortunately may not always be the case, court hearings can be lengthy and the court will consider a range of factors before determining what is best for the child. The court will always have the child’s best interest in mind. This however does not mean that there will be a long gap in seeing your child, the court could direct other ways of contact such as phone calls video calls then proceeding on to face 2 face contact but in smaller steps.

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What happens if I have to go to court?

When the court receives your Application, they will set a time and place for you and the other person involved to have a first court appointment hearing (FHDRA)

The FHDRA is when the court investigates the issues and attempt to settle, if the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the court will identify the outstanding issues and concerns and give directions on how the case should proceed.

An example of orders would be the court could order CAFCASS to prepare a report to assist the judge at the hearings , there could be an order for the parties to prepare witness statements of the evidence.

What is Cafcass?

Children and family court advisory support services (CAFCASS) Are assigned when two parents are in a dispute over child arrangement and have proceeded the matter to court.

Cafcass’ role is to look out for the best interest of the child within family proceedings. Cafcass officers undertake a variety of matters such as background checks on both parents, or any other members important to the case, telephone or in person interviews . the court usually directs Cafcass to prepare a safeguarding letter in preparation for the first hearing. Further down the proceedings the court can order Cafcass to undertake a detailed assessment in order to aid them with the final recommendation when making a decision.