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A Residence Order (this used to be called a Custody Order) settles the arrangements for where your children will live. On April 22nd 2014, the Child Arrangements Orders replaced residence and contact orders.

Along with a Residence Order, the Court used to make Contact Orders specifying the amount of contact the non-resident parent should have in the event that the Court considers this necessary (if the resident parent doesn´t appear to accept the principles and practicality of a voluntary contact arrangement).

Also refer to our guide on Child Arrangements Orders:

Child Arrangements Orders

When does a Residence Order end?

As with other Orders relating to children, when the children reach the age of 16. Additionally, a Residence Order is no longer valid if the parents reconcile and have been living together for six months or more.

Does residence change parental rights?

Only in one main area, in that a resident parent has the right to take the children abroad for up to a month without the other parent's or the court's consent whereas a non-resident parent does not have that right, unless they have been granted a Specific Issue Order for this). The same distinction exists in child arrangements orders, in that the parent with whom the child lives may take the child abroad for up to 1 month without the other parent's consent, whereas a parent who the child spends time with (as opposed to lives with) or otherwise has contact with may not (without consent of the parent with whom the child lives or the court).

A parent´s right to involvement in decisions such as schooling and medical treatment is a separate matter, and depends on their having legal Parental Responsibility.

Do existing residence and contact orders still stand?

In reality, yes. However you'll be treated as if you are named in a Child Arrangements Order BUT... your status will still be as a person with whom the child lives, or a person with whom a child visits or otherwise has contact, and the legal rights conferred by each ARE NOT the same. So practically, you're still the resident or non-resident (contact) parent, and it makes no difference whether you have your existing order or the new one, albeit the court now has wider powers to enforce residence and shared residence orders.

I've applied for a contact/residence, do I need to make a fresh application?

No. If you applied for residence, you'll be treated as having applied for a child arrangements order, and wanting to be named as having the child live with you, while if you applied for contact, you'll be treated as having applied for a child arrangements order, wishing to spend time with your child or otherwise have contact. Child arrangements order may also name the child as living with both parents albeit at different times/locations (which we used to refer to as shared residence.

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Michael Robinson © 2014

Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales

Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.

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