Katie Taft
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Date Published:09 Mar 2016 Last Updated:18 Jan 2022

New Child Arrangements Orders in force From 22 April 2014

Family Law

The Children and Families Act 2014 has come into force today (22 April 2014) and is viewed by many as marking a fundamental shift in the law relating to children. However, many Family Lawyers have taken the more sceptical view that this new legislation has simply introduced new ‘labels’ and will have little impact on the way disputes regarding children are resolved.

The Act introduces the new “child arrangements order” which replaces both contact orders and residence orders. This means that the family court will have the power to make two child arrangements orders, the first of which will outline who the child will live with and the second will outline the contact arrangements for the child to see the other parent.

By removing the labels of “resident parent” and “non-resident” parent the government has attempted to ensure that both parents view themselves as being of equal importance in a child’s life. The previous regime was often criticised for elevating the status of the parent with ‘residence’.

Is it all in the label?

The reality is that these changes will have no impact on the Court’s decision about where and with whom a child should live, nor will a different label prevent disputes arising between parents. It remains to be seen as to whether this change of terminology will assist parents in working together for the benefit of their children by ensuring that neither parent feels marginalised.

For further information or advice about disputes involving children please contact the family department at familylaw@ellisjones.co.uk.