If you have children
When it comes to sorting out where the children should live, and how you will ensure they maintain a close relationship with both of you, you are in the same legal position as married couples. It is always difficult but you have to try to ensure the break up affects your children as little as possible. You should try to come to an agreement yourselves, before involving the courts - consider using a mediation service if it’s proving difficult. You may find the ‘Parenting Plans’ booklet very useful - it is designed to help you make arrangements for your children, and to help you discuss the issues with them - see the 'More help and advice'section.
If there are any issues of domestic violence, or violence towards the children, you should get legal advice.
Family mediation is often particularly useful in helping couples who are splitting up come to arrangements about the children. You can use a family mediation service as soon as you have made the decision to end your relationship, or at a later date if there are still outstanding problems.
Couples referred to mediation by a solicitor may be eligible for legal aid to cover the costs. See our Family Mediation pages for more details, or to listen in on a mediation session with our podcasts.Couples referred to mediation by a solicitor may be eligible for legal aid to cover the costs.
You are both financially responsible for your children. If your children don’t live with you, you should pay child support. You do not have to pay child support for your partner’s children unless you have adopted them. There is a new website and helpline: Child Maintenance Options 0800 988 0988 that you can go to for advice on maintenance for your children. They will advise you on your choices and help you sort out an agreement if possible. If you can’t agree, then they will tell you about how to use the Child Support Agency.
Whether you are moving or not, it is a good idea to tell your children’s teachers the new situation. They need to understand what is happening as the situation at home may make a difference to your child’s behaviour in the short-term.
See the children section at *LivingTogether*for more information.