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What’s in a name? Changes to how we refer to children orders in the Family Courts

November 12, 2021

Child Arrangements Orders are often called many other names depending on who you speak to. Solicitor Megan Ryan-Loughran explains their evolution in the Family Courts.

If I said to you ‘custody’ and ‘access’, you would know what I meant. If I said to you ‘contact’ and ‘residence’, you would more likely that not know that these mean the same thing. But these are not the only issues that a court can assist with when it comes to children, and these terms have now become outdated. 

Since 2014, these issues have been placed under the umbrella of ‘child arrangements’. The relevant court orders are Child Arrangements Orders. These orders decide, amongst other things: 

– where a child shall live 

– how much time they will spend with each parent 

Further information on child arrangements orders can be found here  

So why is this important? Well, as explained in this blog (https://www.familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/language-matters-time-to-reframe-our-national-vocabulary-for-family-breakdown2), the idea is to ensure that the child’s welfare is paramount. Children can very easily be sucked into a “custody battle”, which has been proven to be psychologically harmful to a child. The aim should be (of course only where appropriate) to encourage co-parenting and an inter-parent relationship to enable a child to have a relationship with both of their parents if safe to do so. 

Again, safety is key in family law and as practitioners, we will always try our best to reach a solution that is safe and suitable for all involved. 

Calling these cases “child arrangement” cases reminds us that the children should always be at the forefront of our minds. It is not their fault that their parents are in a dispute, and they should never be made to feel that way. 

If you need to speak to a specialist about child arrangements, contact our team today.  Call us on 01204 377600 or email familydepartment@afglaw.co.uk