Child arrangements orders are made with the intention of “standing the test of time”, but frequently a new family dynamic or change in relationships can alter the requirements of the order, or perhaps the need for an order altogether.
The court generally proceeds on the premise that a younger child will fall in line with parents’ rules and/or court orders, whereas an older child will ultimately vote with their feet. The court will not make an order for children aged 16 or over outside of exceptional circumstances. In reality, this means that varying an order providing contact between a parent and a 16 year old child is unlikely to be forthcoming from the court.
Modern orders will incorporate provision for changes to be made by agreement of the parties, although as children get older and a further voice is heard in the discussion, this agreement can be increasingly hard to reach. It may be necessary to apply to the court to vary the existing order for one which more accurately reflects the best interests of the child.
Before proceedings are issued, the parties should consider the suitability of mediation as a mechanism to resolve their dispute. The parties are required to complete a MIAM appointment before proceeding are issued.
When applying to the court to vary an existing order, the parties to the original proceedings should be named as respondents.
The courts are obliged to consider the welfare of the child, when considering if a varied order is in their best interests. The courts will increasingly consider the wishes and feelings of the child when assessing any changes to a child arrangements order.
If you want to discuss varying a child arrangements order with one of our specialist family lawyers, contact us on 01234 889777 for a free consultation with a solicitor.