Children Act Proceedings - 'Live with' orders

This is now expressed as ‘the child shall live with mother’ or ‘the child shall live with father’. The concept is that the child has one main home with one or other of the parents. Orders that a child shall live solely with one parent are now less common, although they are still made if it meets the child's best interests.

To reflect modern parenting it is now commonplace for a court to order that a child shall live with both parents - called shared care arrangements.The concept is that the child has two main homes. Such orders specify the pattern of care for a child and when they shall live with each parent. Such orders do not however mean that the child shall and must spend an equal amount of time with each parent; rather, a general sharing of time.

Over recent years there has been a shift in the reported cases that increasingly favours the making of shared care orders. It is often thought to be in the best interests of the child to recognise the equal importance of both parents.

Generally speaking, the family court now has a very positive view of fathers spending significant periods of time with their children.

Sometimes people other than the child’s natural parents will wish to make an application to the court for the child to live with them; they may do so if the Court gives them permission.

An application for a 'live with' Order or a shared care order clearly is a major event in a family's life; it is essential to get advice at any early stage. Sometimes that advice will be to continue to ‘build the case’ before making the application itself.

Some couples agree an arrangement whereby the children spend about half their time in each household: usually half a week at a time or on a ‘week on / week off’ basis. The best term for this is ‘shared care’ and it usually pre-supposes a good level of co-operation.