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How long does a child arrangements order last?

By October 7, 2022Children

A child arrangements order legally determines whom a child can live with until 16 years old, except in exceptional circumstances where an order can last until 18. It is an order from the courts and is usually part of the divorce or separation process.

Divorce and separation can be a testing and confusing time for children. They need to be kept in the loop and aware of how much time they will be spending with each parent or guardian. A child arrangements order helps provide stability by laying down some legal ground rules for where a child will reside. Continue reading to learn more about child arrangements orders and how long they last.

What is a child arrangements order?

A child arrangements order can provide you with parental responsibility for a child, even if you don’t happen to be the biological parent. In order to obtain a child arrangements order, you must first apply for a court order granting you permission.

Coming to suitable arrangements for children after going through the emotional rollercoaster of divorce or separation can be a time when everything is up in the air. Try to stay level-headed to put your child’s needs first. Bromfield Legal family solicitors are go-to legal experts for advice on child arrangements orders.

Who can apply for a child arrangements order?

Only certain people in relation to a child will be able to apply for a child arrangements order without first getting the permission of the court. This includes:

  • Parents of a child
  • An appointed guardian or special guardian
  • A person already engaged in an order currently in force
  • Any person involved in a marriage, for example, step-parents
  • Any person a child has lived with for more than 3 years
  • A person who receives the consent of each person with an existing child arrangements order agreement in place
  • A person who receives the consent of the local authority in charge of a child’s care
  • A court has already awarded you with parental responsibilities
  • Foster parents who have lived with a child for at least 1 year prior to the application for an order
  • A family relative of a child who has lived with them for at least 1 year

single parent walking a child

If you don’t fall into any of these criteria, then you will be required to seek leave and ask permission from a court to apply for a child arrangements order. Keep in mind that putting yourself forward does not mean you will be successful with an application.

The court will decide whether or not to grant you an order based on factors such as:

  • The nature of the application for the order
  • The applicant’s connection and relationship to the child
  • Considering whether the order application will be disruptive to the child’s life or put them at risk in any way
  • The wishes and future plans of a child and their parents where a local authority is in charge of a child’s care

Can police enforce a child arrangements order?

There are law enforcement measures that can be taken if you can prove to a family court beyond reasonable doubt that your ex-partner or an appointed guardian has failed to follow the order. Family courts have the power to:

  • Demand compensation through a financial loss order
  • Alter child arrangements e.g. changing the amount of time a child spends with one of their parents or guardians
  • Carry out an enforcement order against your ex-partner
  • Make your ex-partner pay a fine
  • Or even send your ex-partner to prison in the most severe cases

Can a child arrangements order be changed?

Decisions on child arrangements orders are made based on what the family court believes the children’s best interests to be at the time. Child arrangements orders can be altered according to changes in parents’ circumstances and how a child’s needs change as they get older. One parent cannot change a child’s arrangements order without first seeking the court’s approval or agreement from the other parent.

parents discussing a child arrangements order

Can a child arrangements order be revoked?

If parents are unable to come to an agreement, an application to the court can be made to revoke a child arrangements order currently in place. In the case that both parents agree, alternative arrangements can be put in place.

Hopefully, you now understand more about how child arrangements orders work and how long they last. At Bromfield legal, we are a team of expert family law solicitors perfectly placed to guide you through securing legally binding childcare arrangements for your divorce or separation.

Get in touch by ringing our Nuneaton office on 024 7638 2343, or our Warwick office on 01926 702 702, or emailing us at