ChildrenHelpful Tips to Help Children Through Divorce or Separation 

- Always reassure your children and give them information in a way that they can understand
- Encourage your children to have a good relationship with your partner
- Don’t criticise or undermine the other parent whatever you feel about them
- Don’t assume that because children don’t ask that they are unaware of what is going on

Mediation is an ideal process to assist parents in coming to decisions in relation to children when going through a separation or divorce.

For further help and advice:




Children and Court
When a court makes a decision in relation to children it has to make one that it considers to be in the best interests of that child and the paramount consideration is the child’s welfare. An order will only be made if the court believes that this is better for the child than making no order at all.

Child Arrangements

There are many types of orders that the court can make in relation to children but the main ones for parents or other carers to consider are:

- A Child Arrangements Order – with whom the child is to live, visits or has overnight stays;
- A Prohibited Steps Order – prevents the exercise of PR – e.g. not to remove from one parent;
- A Specific Issue Order – makes a decision in relation to an aspect of PR – e.g. going on holiday abroad;
- A Parental Responsibility Order – rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority in relation to a child (PR).

Where a child’s parents were married at the time of the child’s birth then each parent has PR. A step parent can acquire PR by adoption or by way of a Court Order. Where the parents are not married and the child was born before 1 December 2003 then only the mother has PR. Where the parents are not married and the child is born after 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate then both parents have PR.

Certain decisions in relation to a child can only be taken in respect of a child by someone who has PR. Where more than one person has PR each can exercise PR independently. If they cannot agree the court can intervene. Usually consent is needed from someone with PR to change a child’s surname or to take a child out of the country.

Public Law - Care Proceedings by the Local Authority

Social services will become involved in your family if they have concerns about the welfare of your child. If social services receive information to cause concern, they have a duty to investigate those concerns and take whatever action is appropriate.

If there are serious concerns, Social services could hold a child protection conference and invite you and the professionals involved in your child’s life. At this meeting, usually plans would be put in place to ensure that your child remains safe. If concerns are sufficiently serious, social services can apply to court for a care order. 

Once a case is at court, there will be numerous hearings to deal with various issues. You could be assessed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The court will want to know whether or not your child can safely be returned to you. You should be able to have contact with your child whilst the assessments are being undertaken. This would usually be supervised by someone from social services. Your child will be represented by a Guardian who is appointed by the court. The Guardian will discuss matters with you and assess your parenting, and will make a final recommendation to the court. Once all of the assessments have been completed, there will be a final hearing where the social worker, the guardian and the parents will give evidence and the Judge will make a final decision about where your child should live.

After a final hearing, your child could be returned to you. Or if the court is concerned that you would not be able to care for the child, your child could be placed for adoption. Sometimes, children are placed with other family members who would be able to care for them. It is very important that you have good legal advice at every stage of this process, as it is vitally important that your case is presented well at court to give you the best opportunity of a positive outcome.


If you would like to discuss any concerns that you have please call the family department on 0191 213 1010 or on