Child arrangements orders—client guide
Child arrangements orders—client guide

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Child arrangements orders—client guide
  • What is a child arrangements order?
  • Who can apply?
  • How long do they last?
  • What is the procedure?
  • What happens at court?
  • How does the court decide what should happen?

This document provides general guidance regarding applications for child arrangements orders. Your family lawyer will be able to provide specific advice based on your circumstances.

What is a child arrangements order?

A child arrangements order (CAO) is an order that regulates arrangements for a child that relate to any of the following:

  1. with whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact

  2. when the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person

Contact simply means the time that a child spends with an adult. There are several ways that contact may take place:

  1. direct contact between the child and the person named in the order

  2. overnight staying contact

  3. supervised contact, and

  4. indirect contact through letters or cards

In rare circumstances, where the best interests of the child dictate, the court can order that there is no contact.

A CAO may specify the person with whom a child is to live, but not specifically where.

A CAO may provide for the child to live with one parent only or it may provide for the child to share their time between both parents.

An order that provides for a child to spend time with both parents does not necessarily mean the child’s time will be spent equally between their