Where will my child live if my relationship ends?

If your relationship has ended, your family will be going through lots of change. As part of this, you’ll need to decide on child arrangements. This includes talking about where your children will live.

Try to take an approach that considers the needs of your child first.

Understand what your child needs

  • Talk about what will change with your child. Try to help them understand what is going to happen, and highlight the positives.
  • Listen to what your child is saying to you. Ask them about their feelings. Try your best to be there when they’re ready to speak to you.
  • Many children find it less upsetting when they can stay in their normal home. If possible, minimise disruption. But make sure any decision is appropriate and safe for everyone.

Make practical arrangements

  • Talk about the practical arrangements with your ex partner before involving your child in this side of things. This way, you can be more ready to answer their questions when you talk about it for the first time.
  • Keep in mind how child arrangements may affect your child’s wellbeing and education. Make decisions that benefit them first.
  • A parenting plan can be helpful when discussing practical decisions. If conversations are difficult, read our advice on about how to manage potential arguments. Or what to do if your ex partner won’t stick to the arrangements.

Get extra support for your child

Your child may want to talk to someone outside the family about how they feel.

  • ChildLine offers help to anyone under 19. You child can talk to them about anything, on the phone or online using the counsellor chat.
  • The Mix offers free 24/7 support and advice to young people. It also provides a crisis messenger service.

Handling disagreements

If you and your ex can’t agree, try to keep your child outside your conflict as much as possible. Even if things become very difficult with your ex-partner, don’t speak badly about them to or around your child. Always reassure your child that you love them. Tell them that the end of your relationship has nothing to do with them.

Read our advice on what to do if you can’t reach an agreement on childcare arrangements.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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