A useful guide for taking you through the steps of the law and processes relating to children and divorce law.

Children proceedings for Child Arrangement Orders

Child Arrangment Order states with whom the child is to live with

Child Arrangement Order provides for a child to see the other parent and provides a framework for the dates and times

Children Application is filed at Court

Court office would then issue the Application and fix a date for the first hearing

The Applicant serves a copy of the Application on each Respondent together with a notice and blank acknowledgement at least 14 days prior to the hearing

First Directions hearing (first directions hearing to consider and review the relevant issues in the case)

Conciliation Appointment where there is an opportunity to reach an agreement states with whom the child is to live with and spend time with the other parent or party.

If an agreement is not reached at the the Conciliation Appointment the Court can consider directions for the parties to files statements for a CAFCASS Officer (previously called a Court Welfare Officer) to be appointed to prepare a Welfare Report and to guide the Court about the best interests of the child. The Court can make some preliminary decisions if the case is urgent or there are some risk factors.

The case is then usually listed some 3-4 months later for a review appointment and matters can be considered in light of the welfare report

If an agreement is not reached at the review hearing then the Court will fix a date for a final hearing and allocate sufficient time to hear the case and each parent will ultimately provide and present their evidence to the Court.

The CAFCASS (welfare officer) and ultimately the Court consider a check list of factors when dealing with children applications such as

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child (in light of his/her age and understanding)
  • His/her physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effects on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances
  • His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/hers which the Court considers relevant
  • Any harm he/she has suffered or is risk of suffering
  • How capable each of the parents are, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, of meeting his/her needs

An Order can be granted by the Court by the consent of parents where an agreement has been reached or by Order of the Judge where the case remains in dispute

Other Orders to include Specific Issue Orders (to determine a specific question relating to a child (e.g. name, schooling, health and so on) and a Prohibited Steps Order (which can provide protective measures for a child) can also be dealt with and by adopting a similar procedure.

Download the Children Law Flow Chart as a PDF.