Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
On this page we look at some of the legal and practical issues
that you might face if your relationship is breaking down or you
and your partner separate.
You might consider talking to a relationship counsellor - they
will explore with you the issues in your relationship and help you
make changes. You will have regular sessions that can be
face-to-face or by telephone.
The counsellor will listen to both of you and will not take
sides. The counsellor will respect your ideas about your
relationship, as well as suggesting some others.
Visit the Counselling
Women, especially, may be subject to a wide range of
manipulative, controlling and violent behaviours by a partner.
Sometimes violence is also directed toward children, other family
members and friends.
Every situation and every relationship is unique. The
Aid produces some very helpful information about different
behaviours to help you recognise if you, or someone you know, are
in an abusive relationship. This includes examples of physical
violence (punching, pulling hair, raping) and verbal or emotional
abuse (shouting, mocking, verbally threatening).
A refuge is a safe house where women who are experiencing
domestic abuse can life free from violence. If you have children,
you can take them with you. Refuge addresses are confidential.
Some refuges are especially for women from particular ethnic or
cultural backgrounds, for example Black, Asian or South American
women. Some refuges have disabled access and workers and can assist
women and children who have additional needs.
Men who are victims of domestic violence
If you're a man who is experiencing domestic violence you may
you're the only one in this situation, but you're not alone. Men
have exactly the same rights as women to be safe in their own
homes. All statutory services (such as the police, housing
department and social services) have a duty to provide services to
all - male or female. Also, many local support organisations
provide services for both men and women who have been affected by
For some parents, having to maintain contact with one another
and sort out arrangements for the children can be a huge strain.
These are some tips to help you communicate with your ex and
protect your children from any fallout:
Parents who were cohabiting, or are married but do not wish to
formally end the relationship, including civil partners, might need
legal advice if no agreement can be reached on issues concerning
children, property and money.
There are several ways to end a marriage legally, the most
common being divorce. If both parties agree to divorce (that is, it
is 'undefended'), a solicitor will not usually be needed and
a local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) should be able to help
with the petition.
If a divorce is contested, or there are other issues in dispute
concerning children, money or property, then it will be necessary
to consult a solicitor. The same applies to civil partners wishing
to formally end their relationship (this is sometimes called
'dissolution' rather than 'divorce'). A local CAB should be able to
help you locate a solicitor in your area and advise you about any
legal aid which might be available to help with the costs.
The law presumes married parents both have parental
responsibility. Unmarried mothers have parental responsibility but
not all unmarried fathers do. Unmarried fathers can acquire
parental responsibility, for example by entering into a parental
responsibility agreement with the mother. A civil partner or member
of a same-sex couple can acquire parental responsibility in a
Child maintenance is the money a parent pays towards their
child's upbringing. All parents have a responsibility to support
their child financially. Child maintenance is usually regular
amounts of money paid to the parent who cares for the child most of
the time from the other parent.
You and your ex-partner may be able to arrange child maintenance
yourself if you are able to agree the amount and how to receive the
payments. This is called a 'family-based arrangement'. A
family-based arrangement is a private way to sort out child
maintenance. Parents arrange everything themselves and no-one else
has to be involved.
Further information on child maintenance, including guidance on
payments, is available from Child Maintenance
Helping your child through a period of separation or divorce is
challenging as you come to terms with your own feelings. But
research shows there are things you can do that can help.