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Tips for helping your children if you split up with your partner

It’s really tough when a relationship breaks down, even if you know that separation from your partner is the best thing for you and your children. But if you have kids together, it makes things even more complicated. There’s likely to be a lot of changes at the beginning. The important thing for you and your partner is to show your kids that you still love them and that, while lots of other things may change, that won’t.

Tips to help make these changes smoother for children

Getting advice and support

Separating from your partner is never going to be easy. The good news is, you don’t have to cope with all this alone. There are lots of organisations that can help with advice and support throughout your break up and afterwards.

Next steps

The websites offer a helpful overview of the things you’ll need to think about as well as further advice for taking your next steps:

The Parenting Plan lists everything you’ll need to consider when making arrangements for your children.

Support and counselling

You may also find it helpful to talk to someone who’s outside your family, someone who you don’t need to feel you must ‘put on a brave face’ for. This could be a friend, or you could call a helpline like the Spark or Breathing Space.

It’s also a good idea to consider counselling. Relationships Scotland offer counselling to help people with their relationships and support parents, children, young people and the wider family through family change and disruption.

The Spark also specialise in online counselling and telephone counselling services. Call their free Relationship Helpline on 0808 802 2088 or visit the Spark's website

Financial support

Separating can also have a big impact on your finances. For advice on benefits and other support you might be entitled to and tips on making the most of your money, you can contact the Money Talk Team for a free confidential chat. One Parent Families Scotland have more advice on benefits here

Legal advice

In some cases, if you and your partner can’t come to an agreement yourselves or through mediation you may need to talk to a solicitor about your situation. You can find a solicitor near you on Family Law Association or Law Society of Scotland websites. You can also contact the Scottish Child Law Centre for free confidential legal advice on all aspects of Scots law relating to children and young people. 

You can find more useful organisations listed in the Parenting Plan.

Child maintenance

Both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their children, even if they don’t see them. This can be a tricky issue to discuss, but it’s essential for your children’s wellbeing. If you can’t reach an agreement between you, you can get help through the Child Maintenance Service. You can get more advice on child maintenance from Citizens Advice Scotland.

Safety

We realise that the situation is very different if you have concerns about the safety of yourself and your children, for example, if you’ve experienced domestic abuse or your partner has issues with alcohol or drug misuse and it’s not safe for you or your children to be in contact with them. But if you’re in this situation, you’re not alone. Here are some organisations offering advice and support.

Child contact centres

Child contact centres provide a safe, welcoming place for children to spend time with a parent they don’t live with.  This could be where there has been no contact for a period of time or where it’s not appropriate for a child to spend time alone with a parent or family members. They can also be used for handovers where you bring your child to the centre to be collected by the other parent. This can help reduce any conflict and stress if you’re having a difficult time seeing your ex-partner. You can find out more at the Relationships Scotland website