A child arrangement order is an order made by the Family Courts to ensure that a child’s living arrangements are in their best interests. When an order is made, it concerns what the court considered the best interests of the children at the time. Therefore, one parent should not change a child arrangement order without the court’s approval or agreement from the other parent. 

What happens if you want to amend a child arrangement order?

Sometimes circumstances change which may lead to a legitimate reason to change the terms of an existing child arrangements order. If it’s possible for the parents or guardians of the child concerned to discuss proposed changes between themselves, this should be done in the first instance. Parents know their children best and this would always be the advised first step but, as child arrangement orders are often used after a separation when parents can’t agree on the best solution, it’s understandable that not everyone can come to an agreement about changing a child arrangement order.

What are the next steps?

If it is difficult to have discussions with a former partner, the next step is usually family mediation. Mediation isn’t necessary if you can come to an agreement but it is positively encouraged by the Family Courts in situations where this is difficult. 

What do you need to consider before applying to change a child arrangements order?

The most important thing is always the best interests of the children concerned. If the existing arrangement is no longer suitable because of a change of living circumstances, think about a solution that might work better. It’s important that both parents or anyone else involved considers how any proposed change will affect their children.

How will the court review an application to vary a child arrangement order?

Any court asked to revieiw an existing order will consider a child’s welfare as the most important thing, in accordance with the Children Act 1989. Therefore, the court should only make an order that relates to a child if there is satisfactory evidence that it will be better to make the order rather than making no order.

Do you need a solicitor to change a child arrangement order?

It is not a requirement that you have a solicitor should you wish to amend an existing order, but remember that a child arrangement order is an order of the court and failure to comply can be serious. Every family is different so it’s important not to compare your case to others who have been through Family Court proceedings.