Can I Vary a Child Arrangements Order?

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order is an Order stating (1) whom a child will live with and (2) whom a child will spend time with, how often, whether there should be overnight and longer stays, whether it should be supervised or supported in some way and whether it should be limited to indirect contact (e.g. post or telephone).

Reasons for varying a Child Arrangements Order

Over time you may feel it is in the child’s best interests to vary the Child Arrangements Order (for example which days of the week they spend with each parent or how many days they spend with each parent). The arrangements in a Child Arrangements Order may no longer work (for example if one party moves away or work arrangements change). Most applications for a variation are due to the logistics not being practical or where there has been a change in circumstances.

How do I vary a Child Arrangements Order?

You can agree any variations with the other parent.  You should record any agreed variations in writing (including the details of the variation and the reason for the variation) in case there is a dispute about those at a later date. You can apply to the Court for any agreed variations to be incorporated into an amended/new Child Arrangements Order if you feel that is necessary or appropriate.

If you feel it is in the child’s best interests to vary the Child Arrangements Order but the other parent does not agree, then you can make an application to the Court to vary the Child Arrangements Order.  It is not advisable to make changes without the other parent’s consent. If you do make changes without the other parent’s consent you could be in breach of the Child Arrangements Order. Please read our legal update ‘What action can I take if a Child Arrangements Order is not being complied with?’ for information about enforcement of Child Arrangement Orders.

Prior to issuing an application to the Court you must attend Mediation unless you are exempt from doing so. Examples of exemptions are urgency or where there has been domestic abuse or a Non-Molestation Order. Mediation is where a third party helps parties try to reach an agreement.

 What does the Judge consider in an application to vary a Child Arrangements Order?

When the Judge is making an Order, they will consider whether the proposed changes are in a child’s best interests. The child’s welfare is the Court’s paramount consideration.

The Children Act 1989 contains the statutory checklist which is a checklist of factors that the Court must consider when deciding what the child’s needs are and what Order to make. Those factors are:

The checklist is not exhaustive.

Get in touch

If you wish to speak to any of the family law team about subjects such as parental responsibility, taking children abroad, or anything else relating to family matters, then please get in touch. You can call us on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment or please fill in the form below and someone will get in touch.

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.