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The breakdown of a relationship is a challenging time with many issues that must be resolved. Separating couples often have many important decisions to make, for example, how to divide property and finances.

Making arrangements for any children is often a priority. If parents decide to separate, they have important decisions to make about the care for their children, including where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent.

In some instances, couples can agree on such arrangements. However, at a time when emotions are running high, many people find it difficult to communicate with the other parent, and reaching a consensus about child arrangements can be difficult.

In this article, our specialist Children Law solicitors consider the options for reaching an agreement with an ex about arrangements for your children and answer some frequently asked questions about Child Arrangements Orders.

How can my ex-partner and I agree on arrangements for our children?

There are several options open to you to help you reach an agreement about your children on divorce, dissolution or separation. These include:

  1. Negotiation. The most straightforward option is to negotiate with the other parent. There are various tools at your disposal to help with this. Once an agreement is made, it should be formalised in a written parenting plan and can be made legally binding through a consent order.
  2. Mediation. It can be challenging for even the most loving parents to agree on suitable child arrangements following the breakdown of a relationship. If you are struggling to agree on matters between yourselves, and think that negotiations would benefit from the input of an independent third-party, mediation is a good option. Family mediation offers a non-confrontational environment where parties can work together with the help of a neutral mediator to find mutually beneficial solutions. Mediation encourages collaboration and is cheaper and less stressful than going to Court. When parents reach an agreement, arrangements are formalised in a parenting plan and can be made legally binding by applying to the Courts for a consent order.
  3. Going to Court. Having parents reach an agreement quickly and amicably is always the preferred solution. However, this is not always possible, and if an agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to go to Court. This can be a daunting and unfamiliar process, and the Court will impose a decision upon you that is legally binding.

At Onions & Davies, we strongly advocate family mediation as a valuable tool to help parents reach agreements in the best interests of their children. Our priority is to help you and the child’s other parent find the most suitable arrangement for your child or children.

However, when mediation or other forms of negotiation cannot facilitate an agreement, our dedicated family lawyers are ready to provide the necessary legal support.

If you need advice or guidance on making arrangements for your children with an ex-partner, speak to Onions & Davies. Our Resolution family solicitors, Louise Martin and Simeon Bowen-Fanstone, offer fixed-fee, no-obligation appointments and will discuss your available options.

To speak to Louise or Simeon, please call 01630 411226 or email

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

If two parents separate and cannot agree on arrangements for their children, they can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order (previously known as a ‘residence order’ or a ‘contact order’).

Courts will generally issue Child Arrangements Orders for children up to the age of 16.

The Court will treat a child’s best interests and welfare as paramount when deciding on arrangements.

Child Arrangements Orders are legally binding. If one party fails to comply with the terms of the Order, the other party can seek enforcement through the Court.

What is included in a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order specifies various aspects of a child’s living arrangements, including:

  1. Residence or ‘live with’. For example, where your child lives, which parent they will primarily reside with, and any arrangements for shared residency.
  2. Contact or ‘spend time with’. A Child Arrangements Order will outline when your child spends time with each parent and how that contact occurs. It can also include arrangements for how a child has contact with other individuals, such as grandparents or siblings.
  3. Other issues or ‘specific issues’. A Child Arrangements Order can also address various issues relevant to a child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care and religious upbringing.

There is no ‘standard’ Child Arrangements Order. Instead, each Order is decided on the circumstances of the individual family and depends on each child’s best interests.

How do I make a Child Arrangements Order?

Anyone with ‘parental responsibility’ for a child can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This includes:

  • Parent of the child.
  • Guardian of the child.
  • Stepparent.

In addition, a person can also apply for a Child Arrangements Order if:

  • They have the consent of each person who holds parental responsibility.
  • They have lived with the children for at least three years within the last five years, and their application to the Court is made within three months of the children no longer living with them.
  • A Child Arrangements Order is already in force, and they have the consent of the person the children are legally living with at the time.
  • The children are in local authority care, and the person wishing to make the application has the local authority’s consent.

You will usually have to show that you have attended a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before applying for a Child Arrangements Order. We can help with this.

An experienced family solicitor who specialises in child law will be able to advise you on how to proceed and guide you through precisely what is involved.

Can I change a Child Arrangements Order?

Situations can change, and sometimes it may be necessary to revisit a Child Arrangements Order so it meets your child’s evolving needs.

Changing a Child Arrangements Order requires going through the legal process again, which may involve filing a petition with the Court, attending hearings and submitting evidence.

If you need to vary the terms of a Child Arrangements Order, get in touch with Onions & Davies. Our child law specialists will advise on the appropriate steps to take and ensure the Order continues to prioritise the well-being of your child.

Child Arrangements Order Solicitors Near Me

At Onions & Davies, we understand the importance of creating suitable child arrangements that prioritise the well-being of your children.

We will talk you through the various options available and advise on the best way to proceed.

Our experienced and approachable child law team specialises in preparing comprehensive Child Arrangement Orders that address every important aspect of your child’s life. We take meticulous care in outlining specific arrangements, including where the children will live, their schooling, and who they will spend time with.

We can also assist with more complex provisions, including preventing the children from being removed from a jurisdiction. We protect your child’s best interests by considering every detail.

Onions & Davies Solicitors provide legal services in Market Drayton and the surrounding areas, including Whitchurch, Telford, Shrewsbury, Loggerheads, Nantwich, Crewe, Eccleshall and Newcastle.

To speak to one of our family law solicitors, please call us on 01630 652405 or use our online contact form.