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How to Apply for a Variation Order in Family Court

As the best interest of the child is a fluid concept and subject to change with circumstances, it’s not surprising that child custody orders occasionally need to be modified to deal with the circumstances warranting a variation.

However, the court will not consider the variation order simply because of the changing needs of the child with age as the growing and maturing is not regarded as a material change for seeking a variation in the terms of the final order for the child's access.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to apply for a variation order in the family court as well as the legal standard that will need to be met. Let’s get started!


What is a Variation Order in the Family Law?

A Variation order basically allows the non-resident parent to apply for the variation application to change the terms of the order relating to the child e.g., parenting arrangements or support in case the circumstances have changed. It may include a change in the children’s living arrangements such as Child Contact Order.

What is Child Contact Order?

A Child Contact Order forces the parent with the custody to allow the child contact with someone else, typically, the other parent. The order determines whether or not the child should have regular contact with the other parent. The amount of contact and the arrangements will be based on the living situation of the parent. For example, if the father used to be actively involved in the child’s life before the Contact Order was made.

How to Change the Existing Child Contact Order?

A Child Contact Order can be made in respect of children over 18 years of old. The Child Contact Order will apply until the child turns 16 years old. If your partner agrees, you can draft a consent order to cover the new arrangement and ask the court to approve it, but if you both can’t agree, you can ask the court to vary the order. However, it will not be enforced unless you make it legally binding.

Enforcing the Order

If your former partner is not following the order, you can ask the court to enforce it. All you have to do is follow the steps below:

  • Fill in Form C79 to apply and don’t forget to read the guidelines CB5.

  • If your order was made before 8 December 2008, use a Form C78 to attach a Warning notice.

  • Finally, send it to the court near you that deals with cases involving family law and children.


Things to Consider Before Making a Variation Application?

Applying for a variation order is can be extremely complex depending on the terms and requirements that come with it. A variation order can only be made if there’s an existing court order for child access already in place. The only acceptable reasons for changing a court’s order include the best interest of the child, which may include:

  • The parent with custody is struggling to comply with the terms

  • The parent is moving or has a work commitment that clash with the terms

  • The child may no longer want to stay in touch or want more contact

Child Welfare Factors that Court Considers for a Variation Order

The child’s welfare is the court’s paramount concern while considering a variation order and if any question regarding the child’s security and welfare arises, the court will disrupt the existing arrangement of a child. Here are some major child welfare factors that are taken into consideration by the court under Child Act 1989:

  • The court shall have regard for the urgency of the situation that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the well-being of the child.

  • The court shall have particular regard for the child’s emotional, physical, and, educational needs.

  • How capable each of his parents, and if there’s any other person in relation capable of meeting the child’s need.


How to Apply for a Variation Order?

The application process for the variation order is exactly the same as when the initial court order for access was obtained. However, before applying, both parties have to attend the Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to discuss the matter between themselves, sort out any issues with the existing order, and reach a mutual agreement to change the terms of the order.

In the cases where mediation is not a viable option, then the next step is to submit a form to the court will all the relevant details about your intent behind the Variation Order.

Submitting Application to the Court

Begin the process by filling the Form C100, the same form used in the application for Child Arrangement. Once your application is submitted to the court, they will list the matter for a first directions hearing which will be used to reach an agreement in the best interest of the child.

In some cases, the court may order further hearings to present any evidence and witness statements ahead of the final hearing and appoint a Cafcass officer to monitor the issues regarding the child’s welfare. The court will have the full power to either vary the existing order or keep the existing order in place if it's best for the child.


How Can We Help?

If you’re in a situation where you want to file a variation application in the court to change the terms of the final order for the child access, then call us today. Our Child custody law specialists have changed countless court orders for child access and are ready to help you prepare for the court proceedings.

With our extensive experience in handling child custody orders, we are sure that we can help you in reviewing the prospects of your court order and prepare your application in line with the court’s terms and conditions. 

So, if you want to discuss your options to change a court order for child access, or have any queries related to your child arrangement order, our dedicated team is available to assist.


You can either call us at 07375757510 or arrange a face-to-face consultation with our team.

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