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Child Arrangement Order

Child Arrangement Order: Your Family Mediation Guide

When it comes to navigating the complex world of child arrangement orders, understanding the intricacies involved is essential for ensuring the best possible outcome for all parties. In this blog post, we will delve into various aspects of child arrangement orders and explore how mediation can play a crucial role in resolving disputes amicably.

We’ll begin by defining what a child arrangement order is and discussing its purpose within family law. Next, we’ll examine the key components typically found in such an order. From there, we will discuss the advantages of choosing mediation over litigation and explain how family mediators assist with creating effective parenting plans.

Additionally, we will cover attending Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs), which are mandatory steps before applying to court for a child arrangements order. We’ll also outline when exceptions may apply to this requirement. Furthermore, our discussion will touch upon involving children in the mediation process – highlighting both its importance as well as determining when their involvement might be appropriate.

Lastly, we’ll guide you through turning parenting plans into legally binding consent orders that ensure your agreed-upon arrangements are enforceable by law. This comprehensive exploration aims to provide valuable insights on navigating child arrangement orders and utilising mediation effectively throughout this challenging process.

Understanding Child Arrangement Orders

A child arrangement order is a legally binding document issued by the family court, which outlines the living arrangements and parental responsibilities for children involved in separation or divorce cases. The primary purpose of these orders is to ensure that the child’s best interests are met and their welfare remains paramount.

Definition and Purpose of a Child Arrangement Order

A child arrangement order typically covers two main aspects: where the child will live (residence) and how much time they will spend with each parent (contact). It may also include specific provisions regarding education, healthcare, religion, or other important decisions related to the upbringing of a child. Under the Children Act 1989, any person who holds parental responsibility can apply for such an order.

Key Components of a Typical Order

  • Living arrangements: This section specifies where the child will reside primarily – either with one parent or shared between both parents.
  • Contact schedule: A detailed plan outlining when and how often contact between non-resident parents should take place is included in this part of an order.
  • Schooling & extracurricular activities: The court may provide guidance on educational choices as well as participation in sports clubs or other hobbies if necessary.
  • Holidays & special occasions: An agreement about spending holidays like Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc., must be reached among parties concerned within this section too.
  • Emergency orders: In some situations involving immediate risk to a child’s safety or wellbeing, the court may issue an emergency order to protect them.

It is important to note that there is no standard child arrangement order; each case is tailored according to the individual family’s circumstances and needs. The family court advisory takes into account factors such as the child’s age, wishes, welfare concerns, and parents’ ability to cooperate when making decisions on these orders.

If you need help navigating through this complex process, it’s advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified professional who can guide you in creating a comprehensive parenting plan that serves your child’s best interests. Remember that mediation services like Your Family Mediation can also assist in reaching agreements without resorting to costly and time-consuming litigation processes. To learn how your Mediation cost can be covered by the Ministry of Justice Voucher Call now for a FREE 15 min chat 0330 332 5878

Key Takeaway: 
A child arrangement order is a legally binding document that outlines the living arrangements and parental responsibilities for children involved in separation or divorce cases. It covers where the child will live (residence) and how much time they will spend with each parent (contact), as well as other important decisions related to their upbringing, tailored according to individual family circumstances. Seeking legal advice from qualified professionals or mediation services can help create a comprehensive parenting plan that serves the child’s best interests.

The Role of Mediation in Child Arrangements

Discover the benefits of using mediation services to reach agreements on childcare arrangements without resorting to court intervention. Understand the role that family mediators play in facilitating discussions between parents and helping them create mutually agreeable solutions.

Advantages of Choosing Mediation Over Litigation

  • Better communication: Mediation encourages open dialogue, allowing both parties to express their concerns and work together towards a common goal. This can lead to improved communication and understanding between parents, ultimately benefiting the child’s welfare.
  • Faster resolution: Court proceedings can be lengthy and time-consuming. In contrast, mediation is often quicker, enabling families to resolve disputes more efficiently and move forward with their lives.
  • Cost-effective: Legal fees for court cases can quickly add up; however, if you are eligible for legal aid, mediation will not cost you anything. Even without legal aid support, mediation is generally less expensive than going through the courts.
  • Versatility: Unlike rigid court orders which may not take into account individual family circumstances or children’s wishes fully, mediated parenting plans offer flexibility tailored specifically to your unique situation.
  • Court avoidance: By resolving issues through mediation instead of litigation, parents avoid attending court hearings which can be stressful experiences for all involved parties – including children who might have been asked about their preferences by a Family Court Advisory officer or similar professional during contested hearings.

How Family Mediators Assist With Creating Parenting Plans

An accredited family mediator helps parents navigate the complexities of child arrangements by facilitating productive discussions and guiding them towards mutually beneficial solutions. The mediator’s primary role is to remain neutral, ensuring that both parties have an equal opportunity to express their views and concerns.

The mediation process typically involves several sessions where parents discuss various aspects of child arrangements, such as living arrangements, parental responsibility, and contact schedules. During these meetings, mediators may provide information on legal principles like the Children Act 1989 or seek input from children if deemed appropriate for their age.

If a parenting plan is agreed upon in mediation, it can be turned into a legally binding consent order with court approval. This provides added security for both parties while still maintaining the flexibility offered by mediated agreements.

Key Takeaway: 
Family mediation can help parents reach agreements on childcare arrangements without going to court. Mediation is faster, cost-effective and offers more flexibility than litigation. Family mediators remain neutral and facilitate discussions between parents towards mutually beneficial solutions for child arrangements.

Attending MIAMs – A Mandatory Step Before Court Application

Before applying for a child arrangement order or considering Mediation, it is essential to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This mandatory step aims to assess whether mediation could be suitable for your case, provide information about alternative dispute resolution options, and connect you with accredited family mediators. In this section, we will explore the significance of attending MIAMs and discuss some exceptions to the rule.

What happens at MIAMs?

A MIAM is an initial meeting with an accredited family mediator who holds parental responsibility expertise. During this session, the mediator will explain how mediation works and evaluate if it’s appropriate for your individual family situation. They may also offer guidance on other methods of resolving disputes outside court proceedings, such as collaborative law or arbitration.

  • Evaluating suitability: The mediator will consider various factors like the child’s age, any history of domestic violence or abuse within the relationship, and both parents’ willingness to cooperate in reaching agreements.
  • Gathering information: You’ll need to provide details about your children’s living arrangements, financial circumstances related to childcare costs and support payments as well as any previous attempts at resolving issues through negotiation or legal advice.
  • Making referrals: If deemed suitable for mediation after assessment during a MIAM session, you can proceed by scheduling further sessions. If not, the mediator would issue a certificate allowing you to apply directly at the local court.

Exceptions to mandatory attendance

In certain situations, you might be exempted from attending a MIAM before making an application. Some of these exceptions include:

  • Instances of domestic violence or abuse, where attending a MIAM could put you or your child at risk.
  • Emergency order applications, such as a prohibited steps order to prevent the other parent from taking the child out of the country without consent.
  • If you have already attended court-ordered mediation within the past four months and it was unsuccessful in resolving disputes.

In any case, it’s always advisable to seek legal advice before deciding whether to attend a MIAM. A qualified family law solicitor can help assess your circumstances and guide you through this crucial step towards reaching an amicable resolution for your child’s welfare.

Key Takeaway: 
Before applying for a child arrangement order, attending a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is mandatory. During the MIAM session, an accredited family mediator will assess whether mediation could be suitable for your case and provide information about alternative dispute resolution options. Exceptions to this rule include instances of domestic violence or abuse and emergency order applications such as prohibited steps orders.

Involving Children in the Mediation Process

It is crucial to consider the opinions and wishes of children when making decisions related to child arrangements. In many cases, involving them in the mediation process can help create a more suitable parenting plan that caters to their needs and preferences. This section will discuss the importance of considering children’s views during mediation and how they can be involved through CIM qualified mediators.

Importance of Considering Children’s Views

Taking into account a child’s perspective during mediation ensures that their welfare remains the primary consideration, as required by the Children Act 1989. It allows parents to make informed decisions about living arrangements, contact schedules, and other aspects of parental responsibility while keeping their child’s best interests at heart. Moreover, involving children helps them feel heard and respected throughout this challenging period.

When Should Children Be Involved?

The decision to involve a child in family mediation depends on several factors such as:

  • Child’s age: The mediator should assess whether or not it is appropriate for younger children who may struggle with understanding complex issues surrounding separation or divorce.
  • Sensitivity of topics discussed: If sensitive matters are being addressed during sessions (e.g., abuse allegations), it might not be suitable for kids’ involvement.
  • The willingness of both parents: Both parties must agree before including their offspring in discussions so as not to create further conflict between them.

It is the responsibility of a CIM qualified mediator to determine when it’s appropriate to invite children into mediation. They will consider each individual family situation and seek legal advice if necessary before making this decision.

The Role of CIM Qualified Mediators in Involving Children

A Child Inclusive Mediator (CIM) ensures that the child’s wishes are taken into account during mediation sessions. These professionals have undergone specialized training, equipping them with skills needed to communicate effectively with kids and create an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. As a general rule the Family Mediation Council support CIM. However, it is only suitable for children aged ten years and above.

In some cases, mediators may also use various tools such as drawing or writing exercises to help children articulate their preferences more clearly. By incorporating these insights into discussions, parents can develop a well-rounded parenting plan that caters not only to their needs but also prioritises their child’s welfare above all else.

Key Takeaway: 
Involving children in the mediation process is crucial to consider their opinions and wishes when making decisions related to child arrangements. A CIM qualified mediator can help create a more suitable parenting plan that caters to their needs and preferences by assessing whether it’s appropriate for younger children, considering sensitive topics discussed, and seeking legal advice if necessary before inviting them into mediation sessions.

Turning Parenting Plans Into Consent Orders

A parenting plan agreed upon during mediation can be turned into a legally binding consent order, providing both parents with peace of mind and ensuring the child’s welfare is prioritised. In this section, we will discuss how to transform your parenting plan into a consent order and what steps are involved in the process.

Seek Legal Advice Before Proceeding

Before converting your parenting plan into a consent order, it is crucial to seek legal advice. A lawyer specialising in family law can provide insight into the consequences of formalising your agreement and advise on any potential alterations or augmentations that may be needed.

Drafting The Consent Order Application

Your chosen legal professional will assist you in drafting an application for a consent order, which includes details about the agreed-upon arrangements for living arrangements, contact schedules, financial support, and other relevant aspects concerning parental responsibility. This document should reflect all agreements reached during mediation while also adhering to the requirements set forth by the Children Act 1989.

Gathering Supporting Documents And Evidence

  • Evidence of Mediation: You must provide proof that both parties attended mediation sessions before applying for a consent order. This could include attendance records or signed agreements from accredited family mediators.
  • Parenthood Proof: Ensure that each parent holds parental responsibility by submitting copies of birth certificates or adoption papers as evidence.
  • Financial Disclosures: Financial statements and disclosures may be required to support any agreements related to child maintenance or other financial arrangements.

Filing The Application With Your Local Court

Once your consent order application is complete, it must be submitted to your local court. A judge will review the document, ensuring that it aligns with the best interests of the child. If approved, both parents will receive a sealed copy of the consent order, making it legally binding and enforceable by law.

Potential Enforcement Order Requirements

In cases where one parent fails to adhere to the agreed-upon terms within the consent order, an enforcement order may need to be sought from a family court. This step ensures compliance with parenting plans and protects each individual’s rights as well as prioritising children’s welfare.

Key Takeaway: 
To turn a parenting plan into a legally binding consent order, seek legal advice and draft an application that adheres to the Children Act 1989. Gather supporting documents like proof of mediation attendance, parenthood proof, and financial disclosures before filing the application with your local court for approval by a judge.


In conclusion, understanding child arrangement orders is crucial for parents going through a separation or divorce. It is important to consider mediation as an alternative to litigation and attend MIAMs before making a court application. Involving children in the mediation process can also lead to better outcomes.

If you need assistance with creating a parenting plan or Child Arrangements Plan, Your Family Mediation offers professional family mediation services. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment.Schedule your FREE 15 first appointment with Your Family Mediation now call 0330 332 5878

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