Child Arrangement may be understood as custody, or now formally known as “Live With Arrangement,” and the general concern is the division of parental tasks. The most basic questions asked are:
The best case scenario is when parents can amicably agree on the arrangement. Primarily they should determine who will be the resident parent, or the one with whom the children will live with. This is important because the chosen resident parent is seen to be the one who will contribute the most in the rearing of the children. The other parent, who usually moves out of the family home, may be allowed to have contact with the children, on an agreed time, duration, manner, and location.
Some factors that weigh in on the choice of resident parent:
Parents who agree on an arrangement can prepare a Parenting Plan. This is a written document that will outline the agreed individual commitment or custodial responsibilities to be taken on by each parent. It can be drafted to be as concise or as comprehensive as desired, but what is necessary is for it to be understood by everyone involved, including the children, when they are of appropriate age or maturity.
Aside from living arrangements, the Parenting Plan may detail how to give support for the emotional well-being of the children as they adjust to the separation, as well as the practical aspects, like financial duties for the education, health, and hobbies of the children, the preferred mode and constancy of communication, and even the activities to be undertaken during school and holiday breaks.
A Parenting Plan, however, is not legally binding. To be so, our lawyers can help you obtain a Child Arrangement Order (CAO), from the court. All the terms agreed on in the Parenting Plan must be submitted for the judge to review. A hearing will be conducted where, among others, the reason for a need to make the Parenting Plan legally binding will have to be explained.
When the parents can’t agree on a Child Arrangement, under the law, they are required to undergo mediation, first. The parents attend a preliminary Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) where an independent third party will determine if the case is suitable for mediation.
While some matters may be agreed upon by the parties regarding the preferred child arrangement, the mediator may still, in the end, find that mediation is not entirely successful. In such a case, the mediator will certify that an application for CAO may be initiated.
There is no fixed time frame for the issuance of a CAO. The application for preliminary court hearing may take up to eight weeks, while the CAFCASS can come up with its investigation reports in about 12 weeks. Considering all issues involved, it may take up to one year to obtain a final order.
How the court decides