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Is a Child Arrangement Order Legally Binding

 July 2023

Many parents struggle with the idea that a court can tell them what the parenting arrangements for their child are and when they can see their child.

In this article, our family law solicitors delve into the legal framework surrounding child arrangement orders and look at whether they are binding on parents.

Initial Discussion

This summary provides general information and does not constitute legal advice on any individual circumstances. 

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134 or email us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

What is a Child Arrangements Order

A child arrangements order is a family court order that set out the arrangements for where a child will live and the time the child will spend with each parent after a separation or divorce.

The court makes a child arrangements order based on the arrangements it believes are in a child’s best interests. A child arrangements order may say that parents will co-parent equally or that one parent will be the primary carer and the other parent will have weekend and mid-week contact.

A child arrangements order could also attach conditions to contact, such as contact being supervised or supported. For example, in cases of domestic violence or where a child is thought to be at risk of emotional harm.

Child Arrangements Orders are Binding

A child arrangements order is a court order. It is binding in the same way as a financial court order or a civil court judgment. If a child arrangement order is made and you do not agree with it then you may be able to appeal against the decision. There are strict time limits on appeals so you need to take urgent legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor to see if you have the grounds to appeal.

If a child arrangement order is made and you do not follow it then you could face enforcement proceedings being taken against you.

Enforcing Child Arrangement Orders

If one parent fails to comply with a child arrangements order, the other parent can make an application to the court to enforce the order. The court has various enforcement options available, including fines, or even imprisonment in extreme cases.

Varying Child Arrangement Orders

If you are struggling to comply with a child arrangements order or you do not think the order is now in your child’s best interests, you can consider applying to the family court to vary the child arrangement order.

When deciding whether to vary a child arrangements order, the court will have the same considerations as when the initial child arrangements order was made. This will include the welfare of the child and a number of other factors not limited to the child’s age, physical, emotional and educational needs and the wishes and feelings of the child (considered in light of their age and understanding).

Mediation and Changing Child Arrangement Orders

Before applying to the court to vary a child arrangement order, it is recommended that parents explore ways to reach a compromise. This could be through solicitor negotiations or family mediation.

Mediation provides an opportunity for parents to discuss their concerns and work towards a mutually acceptable solution. Mediation gives you a better chance of maintaining a co-parenting relationship with the other parent, rather than applying for a variation of a child arrangement order or applying to enforce the court order.

How Can Fullers Help?

We understand that finding a solicitor that you feel understands your own specific situation can be a daunting task. So, you can book a free call back with us here.

We have also created a series of fixed-price consultation meetings with a full ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantee promise.

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134, filling in the contact form below, or emailing us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

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