Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) work with children and their families, and then advise the courts on what they consider to be in the best interests of individual children. They have lots useful information on their website for parents and children. They also run the Co-Parent Hub which is full of useful and reliable information and resources to help you co - parent your children well with your ex.
How to find a family mediator
Ask friends and family for a recommendation or your solicitor if you have one. Or use the Family mediator search. It is fine to phone around, ask how much they charge and compare prices. If you follow up a recommendation check the name of the mediator on the Family Mediation Council website to be sure the person recommended is accredited.
How to find legal advice
Use our Affordable Advice service to discuss the most important bits of your case. See the front page of this guide for more information.
Or ask friends and family for a recommendation. You can also search here:
The Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau may be able to help you if you:
- live in England or Wales,
- have a case in the Family Court, High Court or Court of Appeal, and
- are not already represented by a solicitor or barrister.
To book an appointment please check their website: Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau for latest appointment details.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre offers a Child Law Advice Service where you can get free and confidential advice on specific questions you may have on family law and education law if you do not have legal representation.
The demand for the advice line is high, so they are only able to answer a limited number of calls. Therefore, make sure you read through the information on their website and only contact the support line with specific questions on the information provided. You can only get advice if you are a resident of England.
To contact them about a family law matter, call 0300 330 5480 or if you are contacting them about an education matter, call 0300 330 5485. Lines are available Monday-Friday between 8am-6pm. Calls will cost no more than calls to geographic (01 and 02) numbers and will be included in any inclusive minutes offered by your phone service provider.
They also offer a call-back service between 8am-5.30pm Monday-Friday. There is a charge of £25 for a 30 minute advice call and then an additional charge of an extra £10 for each additional 15 minutes.
Help at court
Court staff may be able to explain court procedures and help you find a court form. They are not able to give you legal advice.
You can also search for court forms here: Search for court forms and leaflets
Support Through Court (previously the Personal Support Unit) supports people going through the court process without a lawyer. Volunteers offer a free and confidential service at some court buildings. You can look at their website to see if they have an office at your local court. The volunteers aim to help you manage your own case yourself. They cannot give legal advice or act on your behalf, but can offer practical help such as going to your hearing with you and supporting you with your forms. They can also help you if your hearing is by video or phone, by talking you through the process and sometimes joining the hearing too. They run a free national helpline 03000 810 006, open Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm. This is a good place to start for information on what they can do to help you.
Child contact centres
Child contact centres are neutral places where children of separated families can spend time with the parent they don’t live with day to day and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment. For more information, see National Association of Child Contact Centres: National Association of Child Contact Centres
Domestic violence and abuse
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
For support or to discuss your options you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or in Wales, Live Fear Free on 0808 80 10 800.
Both help lines are for anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced domestic abuse, or for anyone who is worried about domestic abuse happening to a friend, family member or colleague. It is free, confidential and the number will not show up on a BT telephone bill.
If you are a man and you or your children are affected by domestic violence or abuse you can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.
The DYN project provides support to men in Wales who are experiencing domestic abuse from a partner. You can contact them on 0808 801 0321.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides a free, emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. You can contact them on: 0800 970 2070. Alternatively you can text: NCDV to 60777 and they will call you back.
Galop runs a national helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic abuse. You can contact them on 0800 999 5428.
You can find more information and support from:
Welsh Women’s Aid
Further information about your rights and places to get support
Gingerbread provides expert advice, practical support and other help for single parents on their website. Single Parent Helpline: 0808 802 0925 Mondays: 10am to 6pm, Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays: 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm. The helpline is closed on all public holidays.
OnlyMums offers online support to parents going through divorce or separation. The site has a free web chat facility and email exchange service. OnlyMums and OnlyDads run the Family Law Panel, which links you up to specialist family law solicitors, barristers or mediators near you for a free initial conversation either on the phone or by email to help you work out how to go forward.
OnlyDads offers online support to parents going through divorce or separation. The site has a free web chat facility and email exchange service. OnlyMums and OnlyDads run the Family Law Panel, which links you up to specialist family law solicitors, barristers or mediators near you for a free initial conversation either on the phone or by email to help you work out how to go forward.
Relate offers emotional and practical support for people experiencing relationship problems. You can access a trained counsellor for free via their live chat service. They also have lots of information on a range of problems that can arise in relationships and families.
MATCH - mothers apart from their children is a charity that offers non-judgemental support and information to mothers apart from their children in a wide variety of circumstances. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Helpline: 0800 689 4104 9am- 1pm and 7pm-9.30pm, Monday - Friday.
Family lives is a national charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life. Their helpline can give information, advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life. Family Helpline: 0808 800 2222 Monday to Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am - 3pm.