Child residence orders are now referred to as ‘Child Arrangement Orders’ in England and Wales. The court operates a ‘no order principal’ which means they will not 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.
To make an application for a Child Arrangements Order you will need to apply to the court under the Children’s Act. 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). 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.
You may like to consider asking a specially trained solicitor to help you – use the Resolution website to find one near you.