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Child Arrangement Orders

What it is, who and how we can help

A child arrangements order (“CAO”) is a court order that sets out who has responsibility for the care of a particular child.  It is likely to deal with who the child is to live with and set out the arrangements for how often they will spend time with each parent.  Whilst many separated parents regulate the arrangements for their children directly and with no need for a court order, if the parents are unable to agree then they will need a court order to regulate the position.

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The court can also make a prohibited steps order to prevent a parent or another person taking a particular step in relation to a child or can make a specific issue order which can be used to deal with a specific question, for example where a child is to be educated if there is a dispute.

Proceedings concerning children can be highly emotive and we are experienced in guiding clients through the process with the minimum amount of distress, at all times remembering that at the conclusion of proceedings the parents will still need to work together in future in respect of their child.

When making orders about children the court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child.  There are a list of criteria that the court will also have regard to which are:-

a. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding);
b. The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
c.  The likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances;
d.  The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of their which the court considers relevant;
e.  Any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering;
f.  How capable each of their parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs; and
g.  The range of powers available to the court in the proceedings in question.

We have a highly experienced children law team who are adept in navigating such disputes and can offer you guidance and support throughout, including liaising with third party professionals such as Independent Social Workers, doctors, psychiatrists and Cafcass officers.


No.  Non-urgent medical treatment for a child should be agreed between the parents.  If one parent wants a child to have a medical procedure such as a vaccination and the other parent does not consent then the court should be invited to deal with this question as a specific issue.

A child arrangements order usually lasts until a child is 16 years old, or in exceptional circumstances until they reach the age of 18.

Yes. A person who has lived with the children for 3 out of the last 5 years can make an application for a child arrangements order provided the application is made within three months of the children moving out.

If there is an existing child arrangements order in place then you cannot change a child’s name without the agreement of each person who holds parental responsibility for the child. If that agreement is not given then the court will need to deal with this as a specific issue and consider the relevant checklist of factors.

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