Supporting families through separation

Helping you and your family through separation

If you’re splitting up, divorcing, or you’ve been separated for a while, you might find that sorting out the practicalities can feel overwhelming, especially if you have children. But there are tools and information which can help you and your family through separation. 

They include: 

Family mediation: as explained elsewhere on this website, this is where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you and your ex work out an agreement about issues such as:

  • Arrangements for children after you break up (sometimes called residence or contact)
  • Child maintenance payments
  • Finances (for example, what to do with your house, savings, pension, debts)

Many people find that mediation is quicker, less stressful and less expensive than going to court.  (And if you do want to go to court, the judge will usually ask you to consider mediation first).  A mediator helps you and your ex come to an agreement without being on anyone’s ‘side’, and it’s also possible to ensure that the views of children are heard too.

Mediation is free for people who qualify for legal aid. Legal aid may also be available for people who need to go to court where there are factors, such as domestic violence, that mean mediation may not be appropriate.

You can see if you qualify here

You can find out more about mediation, including where your local mediators are, on this website, and also on the Family Mediation Council site.

There are other alternatives to court also, including collaborative practice and family arbitration.

You can find out more about these here.

The Parenting Plan: A Parenting Plan helps you and your ex work out arrangements for your child after you separate – even though you may be in dispute about other things. It helps you to put the best interests of your child first and to set out a shared commitment to your children.

Your Plan will help you work out the practical decisions about children’s care in areas such as communication, living arrangements, money, religion, education, health care, and emotional well-being.

The Parenting Plan is available online, to print, as a pdf or in Word. There’s a guidance document which might help you to make the most of the plan.

Separated Parents Information Programme: This is a course which helps you understand how to put your children first while you are separating, even though you may be in dispute with your child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties. You will not attend the same session as your ex. In some areas it is free to attend – you can contact your local provider for more information.

There’s more information about the course on this factsheet.

And there’s a handbook