How to protect your child’s best interests when dealing with an ex-partner

27th September 2023

Separation or divorce can be a challenging time for any family, especially when children are involved.

If you are concerned that your ex-partner does not have your child’s best interests at heart, it is crucial to take steps to protect their welfare.

There are various legal avenues you can explore to ensure your child’s safety and well-being.

Understand your parental responsibilities

Both parents have a legal responsibility to care for their child until they are 18 years old. This responsibility remains after separation or divorce.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a parent can help you make informed decisions about your child’s welfare.

Child Arrangement Order

Legislated under the Children Act 1989 which was amended by the Children and Families Act 2014, this type of order can specify who the child will live with, spend time with, or otherwise have contact with. It can be particularly useful if you believe that your ex-partner does not have the child’s best interests at heart.

The order can set out detailed provisions, such as the days and times when the child will be with each parent, as well as any restrictions that may be necessary for the child’s welfare.

For instance, if there are concerns about substance abuse, the order can stipulate supervised visits or require drug testing.

The court’s primary consideration will always be the child’s welfare, and any arrangements must be made with this in mind. Legal advice should be sought when considering applying for a Child Arrangements Order, as the process can be complex and emotionally taxing.

Prohibited Steps Order

Another order legislated under the Children Act 1989, which is often sought when one parent fears that the other may take steps that could be detrimental to the child’s well-being, such as removing the child from school, changing their name, or even taking them out of the country without consent.

The Prohibited Steps Order can be tailored to address a wide range of concerns, from preventing a parent from discussing specific topics with the child to restricting contact with certain individuals who may pose a risk.

The court will only issue such an order if it believes it is in the best interests of the child. Breaching a Prohibited Steps Order can result in serious legal consequences, including imprisonment and fines.

Document evidence

Keep a record of any incidents or behaviours that concern you.

This could include text messages, emails, or any other form of communication that demonstrates your ex-partner’s lack of consideration for your child’s best interests.

This evidence can be crucial if legal action becomes necessary.

Involve a mediator

Before taking legal action, it may be beneficial in certain cases to involve a mediator. Mediation can help both parties come to an agreement about the child’s care without the need for court intervention.

However, if you believe your child is at immediate risk, urgent legal action may be the most appropriate course.

Report to authorities

If you believe your child is in immediate danger, it may be appropriate to report your concerns to the police or social services. They have the authority to intervene when a child’s safety is at risk.

Protecting your child’s best interests is paramount, especially when dealing with an ex-partner who you believe does not have their welfare in mind.

Legal options are available to ensure your child’s safety and well-being. If you need help, get in touch with our expert team today. Please contact David Smith, Head of Family Law, on 01543 263456 or at

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