Reasons to Vary a Child Arrangement Order

When a relationship ends, making decisions about the welfare of any children or dependents can be extremely challenging. While some parents may be able to agree child arrangements between themselves — either having them recorded as a parenting agreement or by making an informal arrangement — others will need to go to court for a child arrangement order.

This is a legally-binding arrangement that must be followed by both parties, with potentially serious consequences if the rules are breached. It is possible, however, for personal circumstances to change since the order was made — so you may want to know if it’s possible to revise the agreement. 

The reasons to vary a child arrangement order will change from one family to another. In some cases, it can be a complicated process that requires considerable time and knowledge to resolve.

What is a Child Arrangement Order in the UK?

A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is a legal arrangement between parents that outlines where a child will live and the details of contact with the other parent. The contents of the arrangements are decided by a court, who will place the welfare of the children at the forefront of its mind.  

The arrangements  contained in CAOs vary from family to family, with the best interests of the child or children being paramount. When forming a CAO, the courts will take into account the various factors listed in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989. These ensure that a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing take precedence, to minimise the risk of neglect and ensure his or her needs are met. 

Can a Child Arrangement Order Be Changed? 

While it can be a complex process, a Child Arrangement Order can be changed as long as a prior order is already in place. If parents are on amicable terms, it’s advisable to discuss the reasons for the variation in detail. This can help to address any contentious issues, minimising the potentially stressful and costly alternative of the courts.

Any parents struggling to make arrangements among themselves might need to consider using mediation to make progress. This is where it can be beneficial to seek advice from family law solicitors, as not only will they provide reliable legal guidance but they can also arrange a consultation with a mediator. If this doesn’t resolve the matter, your sole remaining option would be to go to court. 

What Are the Reasons to Vary a Child Arrangements Order?

There are a number of reasons to vary a Child Arrangements Order. These often involve practical factors like a parent’s health issues, desire to relocate, or change in personal circumstances. Other common reasons include emotional factors, such as concerns over a child’s welfare or fundamental issues in the parents’ relationship.  

The most common reasons to vary a child arrangements order are:

  1. Maturity: Mature children may find it easier to travel longer distances when visiting a non-resident parent, making a change possible for all parties. 
  2. Relationship Difficulties: If the parents’ relationship breaks down, the order might need to be adjusted to reflect this.
  3. Relocation: When a parent moves to a new area, this could make the terms of an existing CAO impractical.
  4. Health Concerns: Health issues could mean that either a parent or child is physically incapable of maintaining the terms set out in a CAO.
  5. Welfare Concerns: If a parent has serious concerns about their child’s welfare while spending time with the other, this will need to be addressed urgently. 
  6. Employment Changes: A change in a parent’s working conditions — ie a change of working hours — could mean an order needs to be varied to allow them to establish more convenient times of contact.
  7. Child’s Preferences: Older children might express a desire to instigate a variance themselves. In these circumstances they might request to see the non-resident parent more or less than was previously agreed.
  8. Financial Change: If a change in finances makes it difficult for a parent to work within the pre-agreed limits of an order, it could be varied to make the terms more manageable.
  9. Religious/Cultural Considerations: A change of either religious or cultural beliefs could result in an amendment. 

It’s important to seek advice from a legal professional when considering a change in a CAO, as the process can vary from family to family.

How to Make an Application to Change a Child Arrangement Order 

The process of varying a child arrangement order is different depending on your individual situation. If the order has already been finalised, you will need to complete Form C100. Should this not be the case, you will either need to fill in Forms C2/C2A or C79 depending on the circumstances involved. 

The courts will decide whether to vary or uphold the original order. It is within their power to amend the child’s place of residence, contact dates and times, and time spent with either parent.

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Secure Lasting Peace of Mind With Thursfields’ Solicitors

If you believe your situation is one of the valid reasons to vary a child arrangement order, it’s important to seek legal advice at your earliest opportunity. However, choosing the right solicitors is essential, as you need to be completely confident you are working with a firm who can take your individual circumstances into account and devise a bespoke solution. 

This is where Thursfields can help. We realise that every relationship is different, which is why we will dedicate time to gain a thorough understanding of your circumstances. Once your challenges and objectives are clear, we’ll then devise a plan of action. Once your challenges and objectives are clear, we’ll then devise a plan of action. Our commitment to finding the right strategies has helped to establish ourselves as the law firm that is built around you. 

Our team has amassed a great deal of experience in dealing with complex family matters, including divorce and separation, child arrangements, financial settlements, and nuptial agreements. We can even offer bespoke advice relating to farming divorce

As a full service law firm, we are able to call on the expertise of other departments and provide you with a truly holistic service. This means we can take care of related matters such as estate planning and issues regarding residential property. Because of this, you can be totally confident you are working with a law firm that can take care of everything for you and leave nothing to chance.  
For trustworthy guidance that achieves your goals, contact our team today.

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