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If You Cannot Agree on Child Arrangements

Ex-partners cannot always agree on child arrangements despite getting help or using mediation. In this case, you can use a court order to get an agreement on parenting plans.

What Happens If You Still Cannot Agree?

So, you tried other methods to reach an agreement on child arrangements and they all failed, including mediation.

The next step is to apply for a court order before your case ends up in the courts for a decision.

In most cases, you must first attend a meeting about mediation (MIAM). But, some exceptions apply (e.g. cases involving domestic abuse).

You would usually need to attend a court appointment and several court hearings. The court may ask you try mediation again or attend a course that specialises in resolving relationship issues.

Types of Court Orders

There is more than one type of court order available. The one you need will depend on what you cannot reach an agreement on. Even so, you can apply for several court orders if you need to.

Child Arrangements Order

The purpose of a ‘child arrangements order’ is to determine an agreement on the proposals for a child’s residence and contact. Thus, this type of court order would decide:

  • Where any children under the age of 16 will live.
  • Where and when they will spend time with each of the parents.
  • What other types of contact can take place and when (e.g. telephone calls).

Note: The ‘child arrangements orders’ have now replaced the outdated ‘contact orders’ and ‘residence orders’. You may need to use a solicitor for legal advice but there is no need for parents to re-apply.

Specific Issue Order

A child’s upbringing is the main subject of a ‘specific issue order’. The court uses this type of order to address specific issues about how the child is being brought up. Typical examples include:

  • Which school the child will attend to get an education.
  • Whether, or not, they should have a religious education.

Note: Applying for a ‘prohibited steps order’ will stop the other parent making a decision about the upbringing of the child.

Who Can Apply for a Court Order

Only certain people can apply for a court order to make parenting arrangements. You must either be the mother or father of the child or have parental rights and responsibility.

Note: Other people can apply for these types of court orders (e.g. a grandparent). But, they would need to get permission from the courts before making an application.


Using Mediation Services | How a mediator can help ex-partners agree on parenting plans for children.

Applying for a Court Order | Asking a court to decide when ex-partners cannot reach an agreement.

Types of Court Orders When Ex-Partners Can’t Agree on Child Arrangements