A Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is a legal order made by the court deciding on the arrangements for the residence and/or contact of a child. This can only be done if the court considers it to be in the best interests of the child.
Eligibility for a CAO:
- You need to either be the parent or legal guardian of the child.
- You need to have a good reason to apply to the court for a CAO, such as the inability of the other parent to provide adequate care or a disagreement over arrangements for the child.
Requirements for a CAO:
- Pre-application Mediation: Before applying to the court for a CAO, you and the other parent must participate in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a federally approved mediator. This process aims to resolve disputes outside of court.
- Court Application: If mediation fails to resolve the dispute, you can apply to the court for a CAO. You will need the services of a solicitor who will help you prepare and file your application with the court.
- Court Hearings: The court will hold an initial court hearing to decide if the case is suitable for a full hearing. A full hearing will take place if necessary. At the full hearing, the court will hear evidence from both parties and make a final decision.
Once a CAO is in place, either parent has the right to apply to the court to vary or terminate the order if circumstances change.
Overall, applying for a Child Arrangement Order is a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful consideration and guidance from a solicitor. Contact a solicitor in our family law department to get expert advice and to let an expert in the family law deal with your matter.