Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

How do I change a child arrangements order?

The issue of how to deal with parents who are raising children together but are unable to communicate or spend time with each other has been dealt with in a recent case* in Cambridge. The case deals with two boys, aged 7 and 5, who live with their mother, and spend alternate weekends with their father. The issue of how the children’s time should be divided had been dealt with by the courts in litigation since 2009 and a child arrangements order had already been put in place by the court.

The father applied to court to extend his alternate weekend to include a Friday afternoon collection from school, and a Monday morning return to school. The judge focussed on the importance of each of the factors in the “welfare checklist” which help a court determine what outcome is in the best interests of a child or children involved in a child arrangements case. This checklist is set out in the Children Act 1989.

The checklist
(a )the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b )his physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c) the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
(d) his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
(e) any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f) 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;
(g) the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

The judge considered the checklist, and found that both of the time extensions the father requested should be put into effect, but on a slow timetable, and at the pace of the children involved. The judge also decided that neither parent should be able to litigation about the child arrangements again until July 2016 with the court’s permission, to enable the new arrangements to come into force, and give the children a period of time without litigation.

* M (Children) [2014] EWFC B214

Changing a Child Arrangements Order

Stowe School, near Milton Keynes

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