04 August 2021
How to agree child arrangements
It’s always better to agree child arrangements with your former partner or spouse directly, as it puts you both in control rather than passing this decision making to a court or other third party. Although in certain situations it may be impossible to have direct communication, Ella Moxey, family solicitor at B P Collins, offers some helpful tips on how to reach an agreement.
- Always keep the children’s best interests at the forefront of your conversations. It may be challenging to engage in communication with your former spouse or partner, but divorce or separation affects your children’s lives too and it is always better for them to have close, loving relationships with both parents and to see them regularly.
- Agree a time and place to discuss the arrangements. If communication is challenging you may find it helpful to meet in a neutral space. If that isn’t possible use indirect communication, such as email, but keep your language neutral and open. Make suggestions, not demands. If you think the discussions might be difficult, consider proposing that a mutual friend is also present – sometimes it can be helpful to have an unbiased perspective on matters.
- Think carefully about the issues – these include the day-to-day arrangements, handovers including timing and cost of travel, plans for telephone or video calls and schedules for trips abroad. It may help to write down the points so you do not go off topic.
- Allow for some flexibility in arrangements, be realistic and work together for the benefit of your children. You may need to accommodate both of your work schedules, annual leave or that of any other relevant person – such as an au pair, nanny or a new partner.
- Once you have agreed arrangements, clearly set them out in a schedule and explain it to your children. Always keep communication with them simple and age appropriate, but do listen to their views and allow them to express their feelings.
- At handovers consider inviting the other parent in for a tea or coffee. This shows your children that you can communicate and work together. Take an interest in the activities the children did with the other parent – be enthusiastic and positive – this puts the children first.
- If you need to change arrangements, let the other parent know with as much notice as possible. Unless there are unforeseen circumstances, you should not change arrangements unilaterally as this will be annoying and can cause distrust. Last minute changes are also likely to be confusing to children.
What happens if you cannot agree?
If you are struggling to agree child arrangements with your former spouse or partner, please contact B P Collins’ Ella Moxey at email@example.com or call 01753 279078 to explore your options.