When a married couple decides to get a divorce or end their relationship, the custody of their child or children will be put into uncertainty.
In most cases, the couple or partner will try to discuss and make necessary arrangements for their child’s care. However, when one party is uncooperative or both parties are unable to resolve their custodial dispute, a child arrangement order must be put into place.
What is a child arrangement order?
If there is a risk in the safety and well-being of a child whose parent or guardian is separating, a child arrangement order will determine the child’s best interests for living arrangements.
The separating couple or guardian cannot neglect a child arrangement order because it is a legal order where the court decides the custody of the child, whom they can spend time with, and for how long.
Who can apply for a child arrangement order?
Involved parties who can apply for a child arrangement order are those who used to be in a relationship or had lived together. However, in some cases, one of the parents may not be the biological parent of the child.
Qualified applicants for a child arrangement order are parents or guardians, a person who has shared parental responsibility with the child, or someone in a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a family member. Anyone who lives with the child or has lived with them for three years or longer may also apply.
What are the types of child arrangement order?
Generally, there are two types of child arrangement orders. The first is the order for whom the child is going to live with (also called living with order) and the other order for whom the child will spend time with (also called contact order).
1. Living with order
In a living with an order, one of the parents or guardians will be appointed as the primary carer of the child. However, there are also cases where both parents or guardians share the responsibility.
For example, the separated parents or guardians will take turns in accepting the child into their home based on scheduled arrangements, whom the child will spend the holidays with and where the child will sleep during weeknights or weekends.
2. Contact order
A contact order is a type of child arrangement order to determine who the child is allowed to have contact with and in what forms. This order allows parents or guardians of the child to communicate with them through phone calls, text messaging, e-mails, or social media.
Aside from having contact with their child, parents or guardians can spend time with their child through certain arrangements determined by the contact order.
How do courts determine a child arrangement order?
When deciding what child arrangement orders to grant, the court will consider the child’s best interests above all else. This includes the child’s wishes or opinions, emotional and physical needs, educational desire, and whether the child has sustained abuse or trauma administered by either parents or guardians.
The court will also look into the ability of the parents or guardians to cater to the needs of the child, physically and emotionally.
Until when will a child arrangement order take effect?
A child arrangement order can be made and take effect at any time during the child’s life. It will only expire when the child reaches the age of 16 and has obtained sufficient understanding and decisions about which parent they wish to live with. The court may extend the period of the order until the child reaches the legal age of 18.