When you split up, you and your former partner will need to agree on anything that involves your children. This includes deciding on where they’ll live and go to school, and how you’ll divide costs.
Sometimes this process can feel hard, but it’s a good idea to agree on how you’ll manage childcare between you as soon as you can. You only need to get a court involved if you can’t reach an agreement or you have concerns.
Prepare a list in advance of all the things you need to discuss. Think about which issues you’re willing to compromise on. This can help you agree on things more quickly.
Try to speak in a neutral place away from the children. Agree to put their needs first in any agreements you make.
It can help to create a set of ground rules for the conversation:
You may be able to agree on how each of you contact or spend time with your child without outside help. This can be a verbal agreement, but it can help to write it down. If you include contact arrangements in your parenting plan, you will have a written reference of what you’ve agreed.
If you want to make the agreement legally binding, you can ask a solicitor to draft a ‘consent order’.
Agreeing things directly with your ex has lots of benefits, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Mediation is the next best step. This is when a professional helps you and your partner to talk about the issues in a more neutral way.
If you need legal advice, many solicitors offer 30 minutes for free. You can also find information from the Child Law Advice charity.
You should only need to go to court if you can’t agree after mediation, or in some cases of violence or abuse.
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