Can child arrangements be changed after a divorce?

Written by Steven Gasser - 26.11.20

Sometimes, life changes happen unexpectedly. For parents who have separated, this can mean revisiting your child arrangements so that your children can continue to feel happy and safe.

In the UK, most separated parents will have joint parental responsibility over their children. This means both parents will have a say in big life decisions. The agreements you have over living arrangements, where the children spend their time and who with, holidays and other decisions over children are known as child arrangements. The agreements you have over living arrangements, where the children spend their time and who with, holidays and other decisions over children are known as child arrangements.

Sometimes, changes might take place which are out of your control, or you might feel your ex-partner is not sticking to what you've agreed. The good news is that you can revisit your arrangements to make sure they work in the best interests of your child.

Here are three simple steps you can take to get things back on track.

1. Speak to your ex-partner 

If you want to make changes, you can try to speak to your ex-partner as a first step. Look back over your agreement and see if you can fix anything that’s not working.

At this time, it is important to talk calmly, although this is understandably difficult when your children are involved. You might talk about:

  • Their reasons for not following the agreement.
  • What you would like to change and why.
  • Explain how you’re feeling.
  • Find out if anything in their life has changed, for example a new job or partner.

Discussing these things can help you be more flexible in your arrangements, either for a short time or longer term.

Sometimes, an agreement can’t be made alone. The next steps will help you resolve matters efficiently and calmly. 

Two kids looking at a laptop smiling.

2. Keep a diary

It’s a good idea to keep a note of what is happening, and in what order. For example, if you’re not consulted when the children are taken abroad, or if your time with the children is cut off without a good reason.

This will be useful when negotiating a new agreement, as you will have clear evidence to hand. 

3. Legal advice

A lawyer will be able to look at your situation and help you decide what is best for you. Mediation can often solve your problems without going to court. This can be cheaper, more private, and certainly less daunting. You’ll be with a lawyer you know and trust, who can help you revisit your child arrangements to a more suitable agreement.  

At Laurus, we also offer direct consultation with children, which can help to find out your child’s wishes, without them feeling pressured or scared. You can read more about direct consultation here.

Going to court may be a better option, especially if there is a big disagreement, or there are serious problems such as domestic violence or danger to the children. At the moment while privacy is somewhat reduced, the Family team are offering discrete remote services. We can discuss with you the best way to communicate if you are in a sensitive situation. Please reach out for help and advice if you or your children feel unsafe.

For friendly, confidential advice, please get in touch with our Family law team on 020 3146 6300 or email us