Example case study: Child Arrangements and Specific Issues Orders issued following relationship separation

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The following case study is based on a matter that our child law solicitors typically take on, highlighting the complexities surrounding cases involving children.

Our child law solicitors helped issue a Child Arrangements Order and a Specific Issues Order after our client and her ex-partner failed to come to an agreement regarding their children.


Our client, Ms L, had been in a long-term relationship with her partner, Mr S, for 15 years before separating. They were unmarried and had two children together (Anna and Bertie.)

Their separation was not amicable and there was a dispute regarding child arrangements.

Welfare of children

After separating from Mr S, Ms L wanted her children to spend most of the time with her and proposed that Mr S has them one weekend a month. Anna did not want to see their father at all, complicating the matter further.

Ms L also wanted to change both of her children’s surnames to incorporate hers following the separation.

School placement applications were just around the corner and with Ms L living in Bath and Mr S living in Bristol, this made the situation even more difficult in deciding which schools to apply for with their children’s best interests in mind.

Ms L had also reported that she had suffered domestic abuse from Mr S.

Reaching an agreement

Our specialist children solicitors advised Ms L to first try and reach an agreement with Mr S through mediation (where an impartial mediator listens to both parties and helps negotiate an acceptable outcome) or negotiation. However, mediation wasn’t appropriate as Ms L reported that she had experienced domestic abuse.

As an agreement couldn’t be reach via negotiation, we applied to the court for a Child Arrangements Order to settle the living and contact arrangements, and a Specific Issue Order (an order used to resolve any specific questions about the children) to determine what surname Anna and Bertie should have and which schools they should attend.


This was a complex case where the priority was keeping the children’s best interests at the heart of the matter, whilst trying to avoid any further disputes between our client and her ex-partner.

If Ms L and Mr S had had a Cohabitation Agreement in place that clarified the intention of both parents regarding child arrangements in the event of them separating, the Child Arrangements and Specific Issue Orders may not have been needed. Furthermore, if they were able to agree matters via correspondence, a court application may not have been required. If the child arrangements had been agreed, these could have still been converted into a legally binding court order without them attending court.

If you are an unmarried couple with children, it is important to understand your legal rights should you separate in the future.

Contact our child arrangements solicitors in Bristol

If you are struggling to come to an agreement with an ex-partner about child arrangements, whether this relates to how much time they spend with you, what school they should attend or what their surname should be, our child law solicitors in Bristol and South Gloucestershire are here to help.

Call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill in our online enquiry form.


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