Child residence orders and contact orders are now referred to as ‘Child Arrangement Orders’ in England and Wales. The court operates a ‘no order principal’ which means they won't make an order (for residency or anything else with regards to children) unless there is just cause. So, you will need to show there is a reason for needing an order.
How do I get a child residence order?
To make an application for a Child Arrangements Order in England or Wales, you will need to apply to the court under the Children’s Act. Applying for residence orders may differ in other parts of the UK.
You will have to show the court that you have attended a meeting known as a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) and show that mediation hasn’t worked to resolve the issue you are having.
In certain circumstances, you don’t need to attend a MIAM before making an application (where there has been domestic abuse, or the Local Authority are involved with your family).
Does a Child Arrangement Order remove parental responsibility?
The short answer to the above question is no. A residence order, UK court-assigned, doesn't remove responsibility from the parent.
No matter which parent the children or child will live with, both still have a say in big decisions related to their life.
A residency court order automatically awards parent responsibility to the individual or individuals named on it as being allowed to have residency of their children.
However, it doesn't remove the shared responsibility that both partners have over their children.
Concerning Registered Births in England and Wales
If the parents are married at the time when their child or children are born or they adopted them as a couple, they automatically hold parental responsibility.
Even after a divorce is finalised, neither parent needs to apply to retain this responsibility.
What About Unmarried Parents?
All unmarried fathers of children whose births were registered in England or Wales, can obtain parental responsibility in three specific ways:
i) Applying for a court-assigned order
ii) Obtaining an unofficial responsibility agreement through the mother of the child
iii) (Following 1st December 2003) registering the child’s birth alongside the mother
These laws are only applicable to England and Wales. They may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
How much does a residence order cost?
Once you have done the MIAM stage you will need to fill in a C100 form and pay a fee of £215. The court will then arrange for a court social worker (CAFCASS) to speak to you and your partner on the telephone and the social worker will file a report to the court.
The court will then order a first hearing and you and your partner will be required to attend and speak to the judge. There will then be a series of hearings to determine whether to grant the order or whether any other order is required.
How long does a child residence order last?
Generally speaking, a residence order or child arrangement order is not permanent and will only usually last until:
i) The child named in the residence order reaches 16 years old
ii) In special circumstances, when the child named in the order of residence is 18 years old
iii) A new order has been made by the family court
iv) The old order has been discharged by the court
v) The child’s parents are living together for six months following the residence order being made
You may like to consider asking a specially trained solicitor to help you - if you need any further advice, we're happy to book a 15 minute divorce advice call with you
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