Child arrangements order

A child arrangements order is a flexible order under section 8 Children Act 1989.  It can be used to:

  • Resolve disputes about time spent with a child, including on a direct, indirect and supervised basis (formerly known as a contact order).
  • Resolve disputes about a child’s living arrangements, including sole and shared care arrangements (formerly known as a residence order).
  • Confer parental responsibility for a child upon a person holding a child arrangements order on a ‘live with’ basis.

Child arrangements orders can raise particularly complex fertility and family law issues in cases involving modern family forms and children conceived through assisted reproduction, which include:

  • Ascertaining whether an individual is legally entitled to apply for a child arrangements order (e.g. in cases involving co-parents, known donors, surrogacy, non birth parents).
  • Disputed applications for leave to apply for a child arrangements order (e.g. to try and prevent an individual from being able to apply for an order at the outset).
  • Fact finding hearing (to determine contested allegations that are relevant to the decision the court makes in relation to the child’s welfare and the grant of a child arrangements order).
  • Hard fought legal proceedings about the type of child arrangements order granted (e.g. ‘time spent with’ or ‘live with’ basis) to include frequency of time with or care of a child, acquisition and exercise of parental responsibility for a child, associated legal status and identity issues for modern families.

In determining a child arrangements order application, the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. The court must also take into account a range of legal factors known as ‘the statutory checklist’ contained in section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 and any other factors that it considers relevant. Case law can also be taken into account, which is evolving and fast moving in relation to modern family forms and those with an assisted reproduction context. This makes it important to obtain specialist legal advice and proactively manage the legal issues from the outset.

Our specialist legal expertise spans both the fertility and family law sectors, enabling us to place family life on a firm legal basis for modern families and those formed through assisted reproduction.

Legal packages

Package One

Child arrangements order for a child – legal review

This provides tailored expert legal advice under English family and fertility law about a child arrangements order for a child. It:


If you require legal assistance or wish to discuss a child arrangements order application contact us

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

Bespoke legal services

We provide expert tailored legal advice and representation in relation to applications for a child arrangements order in the English Family Court and other family orders, including:

Leading cases

Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with numerous fertility and family law cases involving child arrangements orders in the UK. Find out more here.

AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam), representing an intended mother in international contested assisted reproduction and modern family law proceedings in the High Court  and successfully obtaining child arrangements orders in respect of her 2 surrogate born children. This case marks a legal first in the treatment of blended families in the UK following assisted reproduction, divorce, re-marriage, serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse as well as the legal status, parentage and identity of two surrogate born children, their biological, intended and social parents and arrangements for the children’s care and upbringing.

News and commentary

Click here to read more about our media and commentary work in relation to family and fertility law, policy and practice.

“Sperm Donor Dispute: Parental Responsibility, Child Arrangements Orders and Fragile X Syndrome” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog, 7 June 2022).

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