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What is a child arrangement order (CAO)?

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  3. What is a child arrangement order (CAO)?

A CAO application is made under the Children Act 1989, Section 8. Here is a copy of the witness statement template you will have to complete if you make this application.

You will see a lot of detail is required by the court. Take your time answering the questions and be sure to answer each question fully.

What will a CAO include?

To make a CAO the judge will be considering:

  • The Child’s Living Arrangements
    • As well as deciding your child’s permanent residence, a CAO can also include details about where and when a child will spend time with the other parent.
  • The Child’s Contact Arrangements
    • CAOs can be quite specific and can include orders on how direct and indirect contact is to happen. This could include rules on overnight visits, phone, email and other kinds of contact and whether contact between a parent and a child needs to be supervised.
  • Specific Issues
    • If you and the other parent disagree on a specific issue, a CAO can be used to make a decision. A specific issue could be anything from what school your child should attend, to whether they should be raised under a particular religion.
  • Prohibited Steps
    • If there is a concern that one parent will take action with the child that the other does not want, a prohibited steps order can be made to stop it. For example, a prohibited steps order may be used to stop a parent leaving the country with the child.

Who can apply for a CAO?

The people who can apply for a CAO without having to ask permission of the court are:

  • Parents;
  • Guardians or special guardians of the child;
  • Anyone who has parental responsibility for the child;
  • Anyone who already has a residence order for the child;
  • Any spouse or civil partner, so long as the child is part of that family;
  • Anyone who the child has lived with for more than three years.

If you are not in this list, that does not mean you can’t apply for a CAO, it just means that you will need to ask the court for permission first.

Applying for a child arrangement order is just one of many family law matters that you may need help with.  To see more, visit our advice hub – click here.

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