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How to change a child arrangements order

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When a Court is invited to make an order relating to the arrangements for a child, it will do so if it considers that making an order is in the best interests of a child’s welfare.  The terms of that order will either be as agreed between the parents or as determined by the Court as being in the best interests of the child’s welfare.

A child arrangements order will contain a warning notice that if the order is not complied with, the parent not complying may be made to do unpaid work or pay financial compensation.  That parent may also be held to be in contempt of Court and imprisoned or fined or have their assets seized.

However, recognising that there may be occasions when the arrangements for a child need to be changed, the order will usually contain a provision which enables the parents to agree alternative arrangements between them both without the need to return to Court.  This might be if a child is not well enough to spend time with the other parent or has been invited to attend a special event that coincides with the time they would otherwise be spending with a parent. 

If the parents can agree alternative arrangements, it would be preferable this is recorded in writing so as to avoid any subsequent confusion or dispute and there would be no need then for the order to be formally changed.

If however, it is considered necessary and in the interests of the child’s welfare for there to be a change to the long-term arrangements for the child, for example relating to their living arrangements, whilst the parents are able to and are encouraged to agree matters between themselves, if the agreement subsequently breaks down, the Court order remains in place.  It may be best therefore for the Court to be invited to approve the agreed variation (amendment) to the terms of the order to ensure the new arrangements are legally binding.

Parents may be assisted in agreeing alternative arrangements for the child through mediation; by adopting a collaborative approach or through round-table meetings.   Once an agreement is reached, a draft consent order can be prepared and filed with the Court for its approval.

In the absence of agreement as to a change to the child arrangements order, the parent seeking the change will need to make an application to Court.  If the change is to an order which has been made within existing (current) proceedings, the application will need to be made on a Form C2.  If the change is to an order which has been made in previous proceedings, the application will need to be made on a Form C100.

Our child law solicitors in Salisbury, Southampton, Winchester, Poole and Bournemouth are here to help.  Please contact our solicitors to arrange a free initial consultation using the quick contact form on this page or call 0800 2800 421

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