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Child Arrangements After Separation

Reaching parenting agreements and making joint decisions can be a challenge when a relationship ends. But, you can get help making child arrangements if you divorce or separate and cannot agree.

There are ways to get help agreeing and making a Parenting Plan with your ex-partner. You might also find using the services of a mediator, who will not take sides, can be helpful (details below).

Making Child Arrangements If You Divorce

Separating from your partner does not relinquish you of your role as a parent. In fact, separating parents must still make arrangements for looking after their children.

As a rule, ex-partners can avoid having to attend drawn-out and expensive court hearings by agreeing on:

  • Where any children under the age of 16 will live.
  • Where and when they will spend time with each of the parents.

You can choose to make child arrangements ‘legally’ binding using a solicitor. You can also use the same process to agree on child maintenance or you can arrange child support yourself as a separate issue.

Note: Making parenting arrangements if you divorce or separate can differ outside of England and Wales. Read further advice on what to do during partnership breakdowns in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

Asking a Court to Help with Agreements

After trying mediation, you can ask a court to make a decision on anything else that you fail to agree on. It’s best to consider going to court as a last resort situation.

As a rule, you need to show that you attended a meeting to see if mediation will work for you before you apply to a court. But, if it involves social services or domestic abuse it would not be necessary.

Note: If you are separating from an abusive partner you should get legal aid. You can also get information from Citizens Advice and the ‘Sorting Out Separation’ website.


If You Can Reach an Agreement

Child arrangements become much simpler if both parties are in agreement. Even so, there are merits for making such an arrangement ‘legally’ binding by creating a consent order.

Using Mediation

There are situations where you need more help on agreeing how to make or change child arrangements after a separation. Try using mediation or other methods to resolve the issue out of court.

When Ex-partners Cannot Agree

Ex-partners can’t always agree on child arrangements despite getting help or using mediation. There are several different types of court orders you can use to get an agreement.

Applying for a Court Order

There is a specific form to use when you apply for a court order to make arrangements for a child. Check the cost of the application and what happens after you apply for a court order.

Changing or Enforcing a Court Order

If ex-partners agree to change a court order there is a way to make it legal and binding. Find out how the court enforces an order and which forms you need to end a court order.

Making Child Arrangements When a Relationship Ends in United Kingdom