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Child Arrangements after Separation

Child arrangements after separation

Arrangements for children are not usually considered within the divorce application. Arrangements for children are dealt with separately, and are instead governed by the Children Act 1989. Unlike in some other countries, parents who are separating are not required to obtain orders about which parent the children should live with. English law has a ‘no order principle’ in relation to children arrangements. This means that the English courts do not intervene and make orders concerning children unless in the interests of the children to do so. Most separating parents choose to agree arrangements for children informally between themselves or with the help of a lawyer.

It is important to note that even if you are living abroad, the English court can in some situations still make orders concerning your children. If you live abroad, you can also enter in to child agreements under English law.

If you need advice on the financial provision available for children after separation, this is dealt with separately. Please read our guide to child maintenance claims, financial provision on divorce, and financial claims for unmarried couples.

How to record an agreement about children

You and your ex-partner will have many issues that you may wish to discuss and agree concerning the children. Those might be:

  1. Which parent the children live with on a day to day basis
  2. How much time the children spend with the other parent (usually called ‘child contact’)
  3. How the holidays should be divided up
  4. When and where each parent can take the children on holiday
  5. Whether a parent might want to relocate abroad with children after separation
  6. Which school the children should go to
  7. How much contact the children have with grandparents

Some parents are happy to have an informal discussion and agreement on these issues. Other separating couples may prefer to have an agreement formally recorded. This can be done in several ways:

  1. A parenting plan
  2. A mediated agreement
  3. A court order

Every family is different, and what is right for one individual may not be right for another. Our children lawyers will help you discuss the options, and decide which route is best for you. If other countries are involved because you or your partner live overseas, we can give you specialist advice on these international family law issues.

If you cannot agree

If you cannot agree on arrangements for the children, or you were in an abusive relationship and do not feel able to address these issues with your ex partner, we can assist. Most of our clients find that an initial 1 hour consultation with one of our children solicitors (at our office or via zoom) is a good starting point. Your lawyer will set out your options, let you know what to expect, and give you guidance as to which route is best for you and your children.

There are many ways to resolve children disputes including solicitor-led negotiations, round table meetings, mediation, children arbitration and as a last resort, a court application. We can assist you with all of these options.

International children issues

We specialise in child arrangements involving international issues. The most common international issues we advise on are:

  1. Child contact overseas, and the legal implications if the foreign country has culturally different laws, or does not enforce English court orders.
  2. Relocation with children overseas after divorce or separation
  3. Child abduction and wardship applications
  4. Ensuring children arrangements are binding where one parent lives overseas

Contact details

Question, comment or concern? Our contact form is the best way to get in touch with a member of our team.

Divorce and Family Law

See the links below for more information on Expatriate Law’s expertise in divorce and family law:

Ready to seek legal advice? Speak to a member of Expatriate Law today and receive clear and confidential advice.


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