Depending on your circumstances, going through a divorce or separation can bring any number of challenges. And if you’ve got children, there are additional considerations that you’ll have to plan for when it comes to the future. 

Going through a divorce with children can be tough. Making the decisions about who they’ll live with, how much time they’ll spend with each parent and how you’ll divide those all-important special occasions – there’s a lot to think about. 

But when it comes down to it, how much input do the children actually have about where they’ll live? And what are the ways in which you can come to an agreement about what the arrangements will be ? Let’s take a look. 

What does the law say? 

According to UK law, children aren’t legally able to decide where or with whom they live until they reach 16 years of age. However, as with everything in life, it’s not quite that straightforward.  

Depending on the circumstances, your children’s wishes and feelings on the matter may be taken into account. How much weight these wishes hold depends upon a number of factors, including how old they are and what their level of understanding is. Simply put, the older your children are, and the greater their understanding of the situation, the more weight will be given to their wishes and feelings. 

Agreement between parents

In the best case scenario, you and your ex-partner will be able to agree the arrangements for the children between you, without the intervention of the court. 

If this is a possibility, try to take your children’s wishes and feelings into account, and, whilst it might be easier said than done, think about the kind of arrangements that will cause the least amount of disruption to their lives. 

For some separating couples, decisions here are straightforward. For others, not so much. If you know that this is likely to be a contentious issue, or your efforts to keep things amicable are going awry, it’s vital that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. That way you’ll be as prepared as you can be to meet any problems or disagreements head on. 

What if you and your ex-spouse or partner can’t agree?

Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, it’s just not possible to reach an agreement about the arrangements for the children. If this happens, legal advice is a must. Doing so doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be going to court, nor does it mean that you’ll make matters more contentious. It just means that you can start to work towards a resolution with the right support and guidance in place. 

Your solicitor will talk to you about what your views and wishes are and provide you with advice on the same. If appropriate, they’ll then draft a letter to your ex-spouse or partner to get negotiations started. In some cases, it’s very possible that this can lead to a resolution. 


Your solicitor will probably discuss with you the possibility of mediation and whether it’s suitable for you. If it is, mediation can be a constructive way of reaching an agreement with less conflict. However, mediation won’t work for everyone, and you’ll need to be particularly mindful if you’ve been in a narcissistic relationship or have been the victim of coercive control

Going to court 

Ultimately, if negotiations through your solicitor and/or mediation are unsuccessful, you may need the court’s help to help settle the arrangements for the children. The court will consider a number of things. These include their age and understanding, whether one parent has consistently been the primary carer, and whether there are any risks that one or both parents pose. Depending on the age of the children, the court will likely consider their wishes and feelings too. 

The law states that the welfare of any children is paramount, and the decision made will be the one that the court feels is in their best interests. 

Harrogate Family Law can help

Negotiations around the arrangements for the children can make for an anxious time, particularly when emotions and tensions are running high. And that’s where we come in, with expert legal advice that’s an investment in your future. 

We know that everyone’s situation is different, and at Harrogate Family Law, we can help the whole process run more smoothly, and work towards an agreement that works not just for the children, but for you too. Get in touch with us today to book your consultation.