Child Arrangements 

We are specialists in children law cases.

Until recently we had orders for residence i.e. who a child lives with (often referred to as custody) and contact i.e. when a child sees the non-resident parent (often referred to as access).

Those terms have been replaced by an all-encompassing Child Arrangements Order.

This type of new order is worded as follows:

  • that a child lives with one parent and spends time with the other parent and when this takes place; or
  • that a child lives with both parents and how this is divided.

Welfare checklist

A presumption that a child should have the benefit of both parents in their life, unless there is risk to the child or there are serious welfare concerns, has also now been introduced.

When determining the care arrangements for a child, the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration of the court. In determining this, the court is guided by section 1 of the Children Act 1989 known as the welfare checklist. The Court shall have regard to:

  1. the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
  2. his physical, emotional and educational needs;
  3. the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
  4. his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
  5. any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  6. how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
  7. the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

Who can apply for a Child Arrangements Order?

These include but are not limited to:

  • child’s Mother;
  • child’s Father or parent under section 42 or 43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008;
  • child’s step-parent or former step-parent (you must be or have been married to, or be or have been a civil partner of a parent of the child who has parental responsibility for that child and you have treated the child as your child);
  • appointed Guardian;
  • if the child has been living with you for at least three years during the last five years and within the last three months;
  • if the local authority caring for the child has agreed you can apply;


Other people can apply, for example a grandparent but permission of the court must be acquired.

A Child Arrangements Order will normally last up until the child is 16 years old but it some cases it can extend beyond this if it is in the child’s best interests.

If you need expert family law advice in relation to child arrangements please call Maguire Family Law +44 (0) 1625 544650 or email: