What are child arrangements?

When a relationship ends, one of the most important priorities is to decide where any shared children will live, how much contact they will have with each parent and how the children’s care is financed. In the legal world, this is known as ‘child arrangements.’

Initially, these arrangements may be agreed informally but as this is an emotive area with much scope for conflict, it can help to formalise any agreements.


Where should your children live?

Factors to consider when deciding where the children should live include:

  • Who has the most time to care for the children?
  • Does each parent have specific days on which they can spend quality time with the children?
  • Is the location convenient for the children’s school, other family members and any close friends?


Maintaining contact

It’s important for children to spend time with both parents, so any parent no longer living with their children needs to consider the best way to maintain contact. Can you live close to where your children are living? If you must move away, can you develop a schedule that will allow you to spend weekends or holidays together on a regular basis?

If one of you has a new partner which may make it difficult for the children to visit, can you arrange visits at a relative or friend’s house?

Agree with an ex-partner how to communicate with each other on matters to do with the children. For example, texts and emails maybe easier to manage than direct contact over the telephone.


Calculating child maintenance payments

The UK Government website provides a calculator to indicate the amount of child maintenance that might be due. This is just an indication of how the government would work out the amount of child maintenance due. You do not have to use it, but it will give you a rough figure from which to negotiate.

You will need to know the income of the paying parent including State Pension and any benefits, along with the number of nights the child will stay with them. The calculator can be found here https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance.

There is no child maintenance to pay through the Child Maintenance Service if the care of the children is equally shared between both parents; if you are a full-time student or if you are in prison.


Making a Parenting Plan

Once you’ve both agreed a way forward, it’s a good idea to write up your agreements in a Parenting Plan. While this can be refined and changed over time, it makes a good initial starting point.


What happens if you can’t agree?

If you cannot agree on accommodation, contact levels and finances, it is better to go to mediation than to take your arguments to court. Mediation will save the cost, time and stress of the courtroom and help you to build a more constructive communication platform for moving forward.


What to do if your partner is violent or aggressive

If your partner makes you feel threatened and is violent or aggressive, it is important to get advice and seek support. Along with contacting a family lawyer, Citizen’s Advice, Refuge, Women’s Aid and the Men’s Advice Line, can all provide help and advice in dealing with your situation.


What happens if your arrangements stop working?

If your arrangements are subject to regular conflict and disagreement, it can help to try to resume mediation. This is much cheaper than going to court, but if nothing else is working, you may have to go to court as a last resort. This will mean you hand over control of the arrangements to a judge, who will make legally-binding decisions for you and your family.

Both Richard and Hana are trained in mediation and would be happy to discuss in more detail with you what it is, how it differs from a more traditional approach and the benefits of using this method of dispute resolution.


If you are considering divorce or separation, we offer an initial no obligation one-hour appointment for just £50 (incl. VAT), so you can discover the options and issues pertaining to your specific circumstances. To book a consultation please call us on 01444 472700, email us on info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk or complete the form below.


There has been some debate on how parents returning from abroad with a 14-day isolation requirement impacts any child Contact arrangements.

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