How can I protect my child’s best interests when dealing with my ex-partner?

Going through a separation or divorce is often a deeply emotional and challenging experience, particularly when children are involved.

As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to provide care for your children until they reach 18 years old, a duty that continues even after separation or divorce.

If you doubt that your ex-partner is acting in the best interests of your child, taking immediate steps to secure their well-being is essential.

Given the complexity of child arrangements, seeking guidance from a family law solicitor is highly advisable. They can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, ensuring you make informed decisions.

There are several legal options available to ensure the safety and welfare of your child, including a Prohibited Steps Order and a Child Arrangements Order.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order prevents one parent from making decisions that could be detrimental to the child’s well-being.

This could include preventing the child from moving schools, changing their name or being taken abroad without approval.

The Prohibited Steps Order can be tailored to fit specific concerns, such as limiting contact with individuals who may present a risk to the child, and to restrict discussions on specific topics that could be harmful.

The court will only grant an order of this nature if it deems it to be in the child’s best interests.

Violating a Prohibited Steps Order can lead to severe legal repercussions, such as imprisonment and fines.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

You can apply for a Child Arrangements Order, which determines where your child lives, whom they spend time with, and the nature of contact with each parent.

Such an order is beneficial if you are concerned about your ex-partner’s commitment to your child’s best interests.

The order can include specific details, like schedules for visiting and any necessary safeguards. For example, supervised visits in cases of substance abuse concerns.

Remember, the court prioritises your child’s welfare in its decisions, and legal advice is crucial due to the complexity of these applications.

Involve a family law solicitor

Engaging a family law solicitor is highly advisable when looking after the best interests of your child. They can provide you with invaluable assistance and advice in several key areas:

  • Expert guidance: They provide expert advice on your legal rights and responsibilities, helping you understand the implications of each decision.
  • Drafting applications: Solicitors can prepare and file necessary legal documents, such as Child Arrangements Applications or Prohibited Steps Applications, ensuring that all the legal formalities are correctly handled.
  • Protect your child’s interests: Most importantly, a solicitor helps ensure that all actions and decisions are made in the best interests of your child, aligning with legal requirements and welfare considerations.

By utilising their expertise, a family law solicitor can alleviate the stress of legal proceedings and improve the likelihood of an outcome that prioritises your child’s well-being.

Have you considered mediation?

Before resorting to court, mediation might be a suitable option.

This process facilitates discussions and helps you to reach an agreement about your child’s upbringing without judicial involvement but with the assistance of an independent mediator.

If you suspect your child faces immediate danger, pursuing immediate legal action might be necessary.

Gather and document evidence

Maintain a detailed record of any troubling incidents or communications from your ex-partner that show disregard for your child’s welfare.

This documentation can be pivotal in legal proceedings, capturing anything from problematic texts and emails to other forms of communication.

Report concerns to authorities

If there is an imminent risk to your child, contact the police or social services. They have the authority to act swiftly to ensure your child’s safety.

For help and advice with family and relationship matters, please get in touch with Alison Green, Head of our Family and Relationship Team at Mackrell.Solicitors on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at

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Alison Green
Alison has more than 25 years’ experience assisting clients with Family and Relationship matters. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.