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We provide expert advice, practical support and campaign for single parents

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 The end of a relationship can be a difficult time of huge change, especially when you have children. With decisions to make and things to organise it can be hard to think clearly. Taking the practicalities step-by-step and allowing yourself the time and space to make calm decisions can make it more manageable.

There are some things you need to think about straight away, that should be made a priority. The information below will help you think about the most pressing issues.

Moving forward, it can still be hard to keep on top of what needs to be done and when. You can sign up to our email reminder service to receive further information on:

- How to check your benefit entitlements
- Making arrangements for child maintenance
- Getting emotional support for you and your child
- Who to tell about your separation 

Getting peer-support: separation stories

It can sometimes be helpful to read stories from other single parents who are going through separation or divorce – and many who feel they’ve come out the other side of the experience.

The stories on our website include many great examples of how other mums and dads have coped with separation and continue to move forward. Nikki shared her experience of being plunged into a sudden separation, and explained how she found the support to get her family through it. For help getting through the dark times, Joanna described how she managed to dig deep to find her strength, as well as learning when to ask for and accept help. Single dad Jonathan shared what it was like divorcing from his wife and becoming a single parent without any family around to help. For all other stories and experiences, see the Single Parent Life section of our website.

Do you have a separation story to share with other single parents? Tell us about it here.

Your living arrangements

After a separation it’s important to get advice about your housing options, so that you are aware of the choices available to you.

Our factsheet Action to take when a relationship ends explains your housing rights, and helps you to consider whether you can stay in your home. If you do need more advice on your housing rights you’ll find lots of information on the Shelter website, and they also have a helpline if you need to talk it through with an adviser.

If you do need to leave your current home and need to find somewhere else, this factsheet on Housing options for single parents explains what’s possible depending on your circumstances.

If you and your ex-partner haven’t yet decided the living arrangements for your children, our factsheet Making arrangements for your children can help you sort out where your children will live, and when they spend time with each parent.


Your finances

How you’ll cope financially is one of the biggest worries after a separation, and thinking about how you’ll manage on your own can be daunting. For most single parents financial support is available, so make sure you get all the help you can for you and your family.

You can use the Turn2us online benefit calculator to check what benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to, and you’ll need to let the tax credits helpline know that you’ve separated. You need to do this within a month. If your household income has gone down it’s likely that you’ll be entitled to more tax credits, so the sooner you let them know, the better. If you weren’t entitled to tax credits before, you may be now.

You’ll also need to let the child benefit office know that you’ve separated – you can report this online through the website.

If you’re now the only adult in the household, let your local council know. You should get a discount on your council tax, and you might be eligible for a council tax reductioncontact your local council to find out.

If you’re renting, the council can also check whether you’re entitled to housing benefit to help towards your rent.

Think about arranging child maintenance with your child’s other parent. All parents have a legal responsibility to support their child financially. Our interactive guide can help you decide on the best child maintenance arrangement for your family.


Getting support for yourself and your children

You might want to share your experiences and get support from friends or other single parents who have been through similar situations. Joining a support group, like a Gingerbread friendship group or chatting to other single parents in the Gingerbread online forums can be helpful and supportive.

There are organisations that can support you and give you practical suggestions on looking after yourself and coping with emotional difficulties following separation. Our factsheets Looking after your emotional health and Support for children and young people are packed full of useful information and advice that can help you and your family get extra support.

Relate offers a wide range of online support and help with separation and divorce. They also offer counselling services for both adults and children.

The Parent Connection is a useful website with advice, tips and videos to help parents who have separated to create a new parenting relationship, including Children and separation – a guide for parents.

Looking for more information and useful tips on separation? Sign up to our email reminders  to receive three emails with advice tailored to key milestones over the coming weeks.

Divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership

The following organisations provide information and advice about divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership – including how to sort out finances and property arrangements:

- Rights of Women
- Resolution.

See our FAQ's on Contact Arrangements for further advice.