Putting your children first

The needs of your children should come first when you make child arrangements with the other parent.

Most children will feel more secure if they have regular contact with their parents, if it's safe to do so. If they understand the situation you should involve them in the decision-making.

Separating from your partner can be a stressful experience. It can often be a highly emotional time, and there may be instances of conflict.

While you may be doing your best to protect your children from the impact of separation, children will often pick up on negative feelings. It can be difficult to put aside your emotions and listen to your children's thoughts and feelings but understanding them will help you put your children's needs first.

Cafcass Supporting your child through divorce and separation offers tips for listening to your child's voice and coping with your own feelings.

The Family Justice Young People's Board has developed top tips for separated parents based on their experiences.

Involving your children

Children are more likely to adapt to new arrangements if you involve them in decisions. If they understand the situation, make sure to include them whenever possible.

You should try and make your arrangements flexible so you can take into account the changing needs of your children as they grow older.

Child Inclusive Mediation gives children the opportunity to discuss their wishes and feelings with a trained mediator. The aim is to allow children to have their views heard and is not about asking your child to make choices. It is a voluntary process, and both parents and the child would need to agree to a meeting with the mediator.

The Family Mediation Council provides information on Child Inclusive Mediation for children Mediation Is Not Only for Adults! - Family Mediation Council

The Family Mediation Association offers further information for parents Child Inclusive Mediation - The Family Mediators Association (thefma.co.uk)

Supporting your child through divorce and separation

Seeing your children

Your children will cope better with their situation if they have regular contact with you and the other parent, if it's safe to do so.

Research shows most children think the parent who doesn't live with them is still an important part of their family.

You can use a child contact centre if you don't live with your children and can't find somewhere to see them. There are around 350 across England and Wales.

If you're being prevented from seeing your children

You can write a letter to the other parent if they're stopping you seeing your children.

In the letter you should ask for regular contact, suggesting possible days or times. If they refuse, ask whether they would consider mediation to resolve the issue.

Don't forget to send your letter by recorded delivery so you know the other parent has received it.

Supporting your children

Your children may need extra support if they're finding it hard to cope.


Many schools provide support but some children might need further help from a counsellor. The type of counselling varies depending on the child's age and if they have learning difficulties.

Support online

Voices in the Middle is a website that has advice from young people in a similar situation. There's a guide to further help if your children want it.

Cafcass offers resources for young people whose parents are separating.

Cafcass Cymru offers information packs for children and young people .

ChildLine offers advice about dealing with divorce or separation.

Protecting you and your children

In some situations it may not be in the child's best interests for parents to work out child arrangements. You'll probably need to go to court if you're worried about the welfare of you or your children.

You should report child abuse or domestic abuse if you have any concerns.

Read more about the signs of child abuse and domestic abuse.