Child arrangements ensure children’s well-being after their parents’ separation or divorce. However, there are instances where agreed-upon arrangements fail to work, leaving parents in a difficult situation. Let’s explore steps to address such challenges within the framework of UK law, specifically focusing on England.

When Child Arrangements Are Not Working

When the agreed-upon child arrangements fail to meet expectations, it is important to take proactive steps to address the issues, find solutions that work for both parents and prioritise the well-being of the children involved.

Initiate Communication

If the agreed-upon child arrangements are not working as expected, it is essential to communicate with your ex-partner. It may be helpful to express your concerns, frustrations, and desired changes in a calm and respectful manner.

By opening up a dialogue, you can better understand the issues at hand and work towards finding mutually acceptable solutions. Open and effective communication is often the first step in resolving conflicts and improving child arrangements.

Explore Changes

Review the original agreement and identify areas that require adjustments. For example, if the current visitation schedule is causing difficulties, consider discussing alternative arrangements to better accommodate both parents’ schedules and the children’s needs. Changing meeting locations or involving a trusted third party, such as a grandparent or a friend known to both parents, to assist in arranging contact with the children can also be beneficial. Being flexible and open to compromise can go a long way in finding solutions that work for everyone involved.

Child Contact Centres

If communication with your ex-partner is challenging or you prefer not to have direct contact, consider utilising a child contact centre. These centres provide a safe and supervised environment for children to meet their non-resident parent, ensuring their well-being while facilitating contact arrangements.

The trained staff at these centres can assist with handover arrangements to avoid direct contact between parents and supervise contact sessions to ensure the child’s safety. Additionally, child contact centres can provide supported contact, which offers a safe space for parents and children to interact in the presence of a neutral professional.

Mediation and Court Proceedings

If things go out of control and parents cannot resolve their child arrangement issues through communication and negotiation, the next step may involve considering mediation and, if necessary, court proceedings.


Before resorting to court proceedings, it is advisable to try mediation. Mediation involves a trained mediator who acts as a neutral third party to help facilitate discussions between parents. The mediator’s role is to encourage open communication, assist in identifying common ground, and guide the parents toward mutually agreeable solutions.

Mediation is usually a faster and more cost-effective approach compared to court proceedings. It also encourages cooperation and reduces conflict, which can positively impact the overall well-being of the children involved. In most cases, attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is a legal requirement before applying to court.

Court as a Last Resort

If mediation does not lead to satisfactory outcomes or in cases of urgency or domestic abuse, going to court may be necessary. However, it is generally recommended to explore other options before initiating court proceedings. Courts prioritise the child’s welfare and make decisions based on their best interests.

When presenting your case to the court, it is important to clearly explain the original agreements, explain why they did not work, and propose new arrangements that you believe would be in the child’s best interests. It is worth noting that court proceedings can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally challenging for all parties involved. Therefore, considering alternative dispute resolution methods before the court can often lead to more satisfactory outcomes.

Final Thoughts

When child arrangements become challenging, it is important to be smart and flexible. Open communication, willingness to make adjustments, and exploring alternative dispute resolution methods can lead to successful outcomes. Remember to prioritise the children’s best interests and seek professional advice from family law solicitors or organisations like Citizens Advice when necessary.

Resolving child arrangement issues outside of court whenever possible can minimise stress for all parties involved and ensure the well-being of the children. By working together and exploring different solutions, parents can find common ground and create arrangements that support their children’s healthy development and happiness.