Living arrangements

If your parents have separated, they will need to decide on the arrangements for you. The main decision will be deciding where you will live.

It is possible for there to be an arrangement for shared residence and this would mean that you share your time between your parents for example you live half of the week with one parent, and the other half of the week with your other parent or one week with one parent and the next with the other parent.

If your parents are unable to agree on deciding where you should live, either parent can apply to the Family Court for a court order. The judge will then decide on what your living arrangements should be. The court, by law, must make a decision which is in your best interests.

Can I decide where I want to live?

If you are 16 or over – You are able to decide where you wish to live unless there is a court order setting out your living arrangements which lasts until you reach the age of 18.

If you are under the age of 16 – Legally, you remain the responsibility of your parents and therefore it is your parents’ choice where you should live. However, they should think about what you want.

Can I decide where I want to live if there is a court order in place?

If a court order is in place which sets out what your living arrangements should be, the court has already decided what living arrangements are in your best interests. If you are 11/12+ you may have been asked during the court process what your views and preferences are.

If there is a court order in place but you wish to change the arrangements, talk to your parents and explain your wishes. If you move and one of your parents is unhappy, they may be able to get you returned against your wishes.

If you can’t sort things out with your parents to make the changes that you want, then one of your parents would need to take the matter back to court. If neither of your parents are willing to take the matter back to court then you should contact our Child Law Advice Service.