by McKenzie Law Partners

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is a legal process for setting out where a child lives and with whom they should spend time. It creates a framework that provides stability for the children of both sets of parents.


How long does it take to get a Court Order?

This is a process of Court hearings, not just one hearing so it can take anything from upwards of 6 months, sometimes a lot longer in complex cases.


Can I stop my Ex from having contact with my children?

This depends upon the reasons why. The nature of the Court process is for the Court to work out what is in the best interests of the children. If your children have suffered from domestic abuse, then the Court will look carefully at whether it is safe for the children to see the non resident parent. If you have suffered from domestic abuse, the Court will look to ensure that the children, as well as the parent they live with, are not likely to be subjected to further harm.


What happens if my Ex is an alcoholic or drug user?

The Court can be asked to organise for testing to be done if there is substances abuse indicated in your case. The Court will only allow your children to remain in environments that are safe from harm for them.


The resident parent won’t allow me to see my children.

This is called Parental Alienation and is considered to be harmful to the emotional wellbeing of the children. If your ex partner has stopped you from having any contact with your children, we can help you get contact restored.


How much does a C100 (CAO) cost to file?

£215 as at 1st January 2021.


I am on ‘benefits’ can I avoid the filing costs?

Depending upon your benefits and circumstances, the Court offers Fee Remission. This is known as ‘Help With Fees’. You can check your eligibility and apply for it online.


I heard that I have to go to mediation first?

The Court desires that parents try and come to an agreement called a Parent Sharing Plan first, and only the Court as a last resort. You will be asked to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) initially. However, sometimes this can be avoided, especially where domestic violence has been identified in your case.


I am a grandparent who has no contact with my grandchildren. What can I do?

Grandparents do not have parental responsibility (PR). However, you can apply to the Court for PR and/or apply to have your contact rights restored. I can help you with this.


How do I prove domestic violence in my case?

Police reports, Social Services records, seeing your GP or Doctor and informing them of abuse and injuries suffered. The Court has a complex process for identifying domestic abuse called ‘Practice Direction 12J’. You should tell Cafcass what has happened to you and prepare a ‘Scott Schedule’ which lists out your allegations. The Court will hold a Fact-Finding hearing to question you and your Ex about the allegations and make a determination which will affect the outcome of your case.


Who are Cafcass?

Cafcass is the family court adviser (FCA) and performs the social worker role in Court. They also act as a liaison for the children because children are not allowed into Court hearings (as a general rule). Their job is to make recommendations to the Judge about where the children should live and with whom they should be allowed to spend time.


I have heard that Cafcass support women more than men. Is this true?

Unfortunately, yes, it is somewhat true. While it is unfair to tarnish the entire organisation with the same brush, there is still a lingering attitude that women are best placed to look after the children. And it is fair to say that some have criticised Cafcass for being stuck in the 1950s and not in touch with the 21st Century acceptance that men, as well as women, are equally responsible for children and equally capable of raising children. I have to make it clear to fathers, that they will feel that the Child Arrangements process and Cafcass are largely against them — and that the battle is an uphill one. To pretend otherwise would be folly.


What if my ex wants or tries to move away and change the Child’s school?

If you disagree with this move, you should immediately file for a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ and ask the Court to block the change of school. This costs £215.


I have a Child Arrangements Order but my ex has changed or stopped me seeing my Child.

This is called a breach and you should immediately file a C79 costing £215 and ask the Court to enforce the existing Court Order. If your ex continues to breach the Orders, keep filing to enforce and ask the Court to switch the “Lives with” Order so that you become the resident parent.


Do you recommend any apps which help with shared parenting and communicating?

Yes. Our Family Wizard is a very popular app. Other apps are available. Key features of the app are communication tool between separated parents, grandparents and children. Expense tracking. Managing shared care times and dates. This is not an endorsement. However, it is my belief that it can be helpful to overcome challenges between parents and presents a solution to Family Court Judges and Cafcass for more harmonious and safer communication on the important matters — the children.


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