Phone: 0330 999 0959 | Email:

What can I do if my ex won’t return the children?

What can I do if my ex won’t return the children?

Mother Holding Child

Dealing with a situation where your ex-partner refuses to return your children after a separation can be an incredibly distressing and worrying experience. However, it’s important to know that there are steps you can take to resolve the situation and ensure the safe return of your children. In this blog, we’ll explore what you can do if your ex won’t return the children.

Step 1: Try to resolve the situation amicably

If your ex-partner is refusing to return your children, the first step is to try to resolve the situation amicably. This may involve communicating with your ex-partner and attempting to understand their reasons for not returning the children. However, if your attempts at communication are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to involve a third party.

You can consider a service like Family Mediation. This is an amicable process which focuses on helping you put your personal differences aside for the wellbeing of the child, and helping you find a solution that works for you both.

The Government has allocated vouchers for mediation up to the value of £500 for couples who need help reaching an agreement on parenting matters. These funds can be put towards the cost of your joint mediation sessions. You can read more about this scheme here.

Step 2: Seek legal advice

If attempts at amicable resolution fail, the next step may be to seek legal advice. A solicitor who specialises in family law can advise you on your legal options and the steps you can take to resolve the children. They may also be able to help you negotiate with your ex-partner or obtain an order from the court for the return of your children. Child Law Advice are a registered charity that help families and children with all aspects of relating to them. They also offer a low cost legal advice helpline.

Step 3: Apply for a Child Arrangements Order

Filing Child Arrangements OrderIf negotiations with your ex-partner are unsuccessful, or if you believe that your children are in danger or at risk of harm, you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This is a legal order from the court that sets out who your children will live with and how much time they will spend with each parent. It can also include provisions for the safe return of your children if they have been taken or kept away by the other parent.

In order to have a case heard in court you will usually need to attend a meeting called a MIAM. (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting). To find out if you need a MIAM, take our quick interactive questionnaire and find out today.

Step 4: Involve the police if a child is at imminent risk of harm

In some situations, involving the police may be necessary if you believe that your children are in immediate danger or at risk of serious harm. If you already have a Child Arrangements Order in place, the police are more likely to assist in the return of your children. However, if you do not have a court order in place, and the children are not in imminent danger, the police will not have the power to return your children to you. They may check the children are safe and if satisfied they are, you will need to take legal advice from a solicitor.

Note: The police do not have the legal power to remove children who are not in immediate danger or risk of serious harm and are in the care of a person with parental responsibility.

Step 5: Seek support from relevant institutions

Separation can be a challenging time for families, and there are several institutions that can provide support to parents and children during this difficult period. For example, the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) provides supported contact services for separated families, while charities such as Gingerbread offer advice, support, and counselling for families going through separation and divorce.


Father hugging little girlCo-parenting can be a challenging journey, especially when there are disagreements over child access. However, it is essential to keep in mind that the best interest of the children should always come first and there is always help if you need it.

By taking the necessary steps to resolve any issues through negotiation or mediation and using helpful tools at your disposal, such as legal advice or parenting classes, it is possible to find a middle ground that works for everyone.

With patience, understanding, and a willingness to work together, you can create a positive co-parenting relationship that benefits your children and yourselves in the long run.


Related Posts

We can resolve your financial, property or parenting issues amicably, cost effectively and fairly

Book Your Consultation Here
Contact us to find out more about why mediation can help your case. 0330 999 0959 or email

How can Mediation Help?

We can help resolve your Financial, Property or Parenting issues, amicably, cost effectively and fairly.