Please type more than three letters in your search query

Coercive Control and Child Arrangements

child law expert

Reaching an agreement about a couple’s children can be a particularly challenging aspect of the divorce process. However, when one of the parent’s is being coercively controlled by the other, it can be even harder.

The fact is, coercive and controlling behaviours don’t always end when people separate, and they can heighten when trying to reach decisions during a divorce. Not only does coercive control impact the victim, but it also has an effect on children and on how matters relating to them are dealt with.

What is coercive control and what are the signs?

Coercive control, which has been a crime in the UK since 2015, involves a pattern of psychologically, emotionally, and financially controlling acts which are used to harm, punish, intimidate, or frighten their victim. Some of the common signs of coercive control include isolation from family and friends, monitoring of activities, movements, and communications and making a person feel humiliated, degraded, and intimidated.

Navigating childcare arrangements with a controlling partner

What is in the best interests of a couple’s children must always be the paramount consideration when making decisions that affect their future. If a couple cannot agree on child arrangements through mediation, or if this would be an unsuitable method for the situation, then the court and specialist family lawyers can help.

Applications can be made to the family court for a child arrangement order, which includes where the child will live and how they will spend time with each parent. The court will consider a number of factors to ensure the welfare of a child, including any harm they have, or are at risk of, suffering and the impact of changes to their circumstances. As such, if coercive control has been raised as an issue, evidence will be gathered, and this will be taken into account when deciding on the child arrangements.

Various injunctions and orders may also be appropriate in cases where coercive control is a factor. For example, specific issue orders (addressing a specific welfare concern) and prohibited steps orders (forbidding a person from taking certain action in respect of a child).

If the victim (of coercive control) feels threatened by their partner’s behaviour they may also be able to apply for a injunction to protect both them and their children, in the form of a non-molestation and/or occupation order.

It’s important to always seek expert advice from a family law solicitor who can advise on which court applications should be made.

How can Maguire Family Law help?

If you consider yourself to be in a coercively controlling relationship, we recommend disclosing this when you first consult a family lawyer. It’s important to share such information to ensure they can advise and gather evidence accordingly.

Be assured too that often we recognise the signs of coercive control when clients come to us, sometimes even before they are aware that this is the behaviour they are experiencing.

At Maguire Family Law, we are specialists in child law, including international cases, and are widely recognised as leaders in this field. Our team is sensitive to the upset and emotions involved in cases involving children and appreciate this can be heightened for victims of coercive and controlling behaviour. We take the time to listen and understand, remaining focused on providing you with the best possible advice and outcome to protect you and your children’s welfare.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

Contact Us