Starting a new relationship is a really exciting time for you, your partner and your family. The process of bringing a new partner into your children’s lives can be difficult – everyone will react differently and your situation may be also influenced by your relationship with your child’s other parent.
This guide will help you to organise the practicalities of moving in with your partner, and allow you to focus on your family and adapting to each other’s needs. 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:
Managing your new living arrangements
Your benefit entitlement
Who you need to tell about your new circumstances.
We’ll also send you a checklist to help you stay on track.
Supporting your family through the transition
Once you’ve decided with your partner that you’d like to become a step-family, it’s important to talk openly to your children about what that means and how things will be different. Family Lives
provides a useful list of things to think about
before you become a step-family. There is also advice available for your new partner,
to help him or her to adjust to new responsibilities and relationships.
Netmums offers some advice and positive experiences from members on their experiences of becoming a step-family as well as forums where parents support each other.
If things become difficult, it can be useful to get professional help. Relate runs local groups and offers family counselling to help families to talk openly about their feelings and move forward together.
Your living arrangements
Before moving in together, it’s important to get advice about your housing options, so that you are aware of the choices available to you. Family Lives offers advice on what to consider before you move in together. If you do need more advice on your housing rights you’ll find lots of information on the Shelter website, and Shelter also has a helpline if you need to talk it through with an adviser. Advicenow has lots of information for couples moving in together, including Housing and living together which goes through your rights depending on whether the property is owned or rented, and in whose name.
You’ll also need to consider how any changes might affect the arrangements you have with your child’s other parent. 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.
Moving in with your partner will mean changes to your finances, and it can get complicated. When you live with a partner you’re classed as a household for benefit purposes, so you will need to be reassessed based on both of your incomes and circumstances.
You can use the Turn2us online benefit calculator to check what benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to now that your circumstances have changed. You’ll also need to let the tax credits helpline know that you’ve got a new partner living with you. You need to do this within a month. If your household income has increased, your entitlement to tax credits may have changed, so in order to avoid an overpayment, you should let them know about the change as soon as you can.
You’ll also need to let the child benefit office know that you have a new partner – you can report this online through the gov.uk website. You will also need to contact your local council to let them know you’re no longer the only adult in your household. This means your single person discount will no longer apply. If you receive housing benefit you’ll need to let the council know about the changes to your household.
If you’re receiving child maintenance from your child’s other parent, there doesn’t need to be any changes to your arrangement, unless your children are going to be spending a different amount of time staying with their other parent.
If your new partner pays child maintenance, it may need to be reassessed as the calculation should take into account that your new partner is now living in a household with your children. For more details on how the calculation works see the factsheet Using the Child Maintenance Service, or if it’s a CSA case you can find details in the leaflet How is child maintenance worked out?
If you haven’t got a child maintenance arrangement in place our interactive guide can help you decide on the best child maintenance arrangement for your family.
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