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Read more articles in: Blog, Elaine Collins, Family Law

Dealing with changes in circumstances in childcare arrangements

Life can often throw curveballs that you must adapt to at a moment’s notice. However, changes in circumstances can significantly complicate childcare arrangements.

You or your co-parent may need to relocate, experience a change in your financial situation, or the needs of your child could change, meaning your current agreements need to adapt.

Here’s how you can ensure your child’s best interests are protected and manage your legal obligations if your circumstances do change:

Exploring all options

Open communication is the first step to ensure all potential solutions are explored and you consider the full impact of any changes in your current arrangement.

Your child’s best interests must be at the centre of all decisions so having an open discussion can help you raise concerns and figure out the best solution.

For example, if one parent has to move abroad due to work commitments, you must think about the impact relocating your child would have on them.

Attempting to resolve concerns between yourselves is an essential first step.

If you come to a solution that you both agree on, you can write down your agreements in a Parenting Plan.

Applying for a Child Arrangement Order

If you cannot agree on your childcare arrangements, you can apply for a Child Arrangement Order.

In accordance with Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, the order can set out who the child lives with, when and how they spend time with each parent, and other aspects of their upbringing.

In most cases, you must attend a mediation meeting before going to court.

Can you amend a Child Arrangement Order?

You may already have a Child Arrangement Order in place. Whilst it would not be considered a breach of the order if all parties have agreed to the changes, an informal agreement will not be legally binding.

If a significant change in either parent’s circumstances affects the current order, applying for a variation of the order is possible.

If you and your partner agree on a solution to adapt to the changes, you can detail the new agreement in a consent order for court approval.

Whereas, if you do not agree, you can apply to the court to decide on how the current order may be varied.

Navigating the complexities of child arrangements is challenging. Don’t do it alone, contact our friendly family law team for advice.

Elaine Collins

Senior Associate

I have spent several years specialising in complex private children matters including situations where one parent lives outside of the UK’s jurisdiction, requiring urgent applications to safeguard children and change of residence.