Sorting out benefits after separation
Once you’re no longer living together, you’re classed as separated for tax and benefit purposes. Separating from your partner may mean that you become entitled to new benefits and tax credits or higher amounts of benefits than you already receive. If you or your ex-partner were claiming benefits for the family before you separated, it’s important to tell Jobcentre Plus and HM Revenue & Customs straight away. Keeping them up to date about your change in circumstances can help you avoid being overpaid or losing out on money. Qualifying for extra benefits could make a big difference to the options be available to you, particularly when it comes to the cost of housing. If the parent with the main care of the children can work at least 16 hours a week, they may qualify for Working Tax Credit. This benefit can make a substantial difference to a single parent’s income, so it may be worthwhile – financially anyway – if you can manage this. If you have permanently separated from your partner, you can claim benefits and tax credits as a single person immediately. If your separation is temporary or on a trial basis, you may not be able to claim these benefits while there is still a chance you may get back together. For advice and practical support with benefits and tax credits, contact your local free advice centre, such as Citizens Advice, or called the Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline free on 0808 802 0925. You can find further detailed information on page four of the factsheet 'Action to take when a relationship ends',  produced by the charity Gingerbread who provide expert advice and practical support for single parents.
Article | legal rights, co-parenting
2 2 min read
Fathers’ legal rights and responsibilities
Parental responsibility (PR) is the legal name for a parent’s duties to their child. Having parental responsibility means you have the right to contribute to decisions made around your child's future and how they are raised, including giving consent to medical treatment, choosing their school, and their religion. Having parental responsibility does not mean that separated parents can over-ride each other’s wishes or interfere with day-to-day decisions relating to the children when they are with the other parent. Having parental responsibility doesn’t mean that you will always get what you want from a court if you disagree with the other parent. You may also be liable to pay child maintenance even if you don’t have parental responsibility.   Who has parental responsibility? Parental responsibility is automatically granted to mothers and to fathers who are married to the mother. You will also have parental responsibility if you have adopted the child or if the child was born after 1 December 2003 and you are registered on the birth certificate (in England and Wales). You do not lose  as a result of divorce or separation.   How to get parental responsibility If the mother agrees, you can both sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement form. You can download this form from the Courts & Tribunals Service website or ask at your local county court. If the mother doesn’t agree, you can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order from the court. In considering an application from a father, the court will take the following into account: the degree of commitment shown by the father to his child the degree of attachment between father and child the father's reasons for applying for the order The court will then decide to accept or reject the application based on what it thinks is in the child’s best interests.
Article | fathers, legal rights, separation
0 2 min read
Free online parenting plan
Splitting Up? Put Kids First was made by OnePlusOne, who are also behind Click. It was designed to support separating parents in helping them put their children’s needs first at a time of great emotional upheaval. The way separated couples manage co-parenting can have an enormous impact on a child throughout their life – from education in the short term, to future relationships and mental health in the long term. The aim is to reduce the number of children negatively affected by painful parent separations while encouraging a culture shift in the way people deal with co-parenting, to make the continued involvement of both parents the norm, and ensure that those working with separating families can provide the guidance and tools needed.  Created by our parent company, relationship charity OnePlusOne, this is the first online Parenting Plan that helps couples communicate and make arrangements about who will be seeing their children in an informal yet structured environment. The service is FREE and available 24/7 and 365 days a year. Help is available now, with no need to book an appointment or go on a waiting list. OnePlusOne Director Penny Mansfield CBE, says: If couples have a very nasty breakup they may find it impossible to work out arrangements for their children.If we can encourage them to think about new childcare needs before it becomes too difficult, that will be much better for everyone.Our hope is it will remove much of the bitterness involved in a break-up because you don’t have to make an appointment or go to a place where you have to define yourself in a certain way”. Splitting Up? Put Kids First is available in Welsh and English. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Contact dean.wilson@oneplusone.org.uk if you’re willing to share your feedback with us.
Article | co-parenting, children, planning
4 1 min read
The role of grandparents (during separation)
Being a grandparent is a precious role, with all the joys of spending time with and caring for a child, and less of the stress. Most grandparents idolise their grandchildren, and grandchildren can thrive on that special relationship. After a parental divorce or separation, the grandparents’ role can shift dramatically and what was once taken for granted becomes fraught with complications. Grandparents – especially those who have been very closely involved – invariably get caught in the middle. You may worry about seeing less of your grandchildren or losing contact altogether. Your loyalties can be torn between wanting to support your child through the painful periods and wanting to stay on good terms with their ex-partner. After a separation, grandparents are faced with many dilemmas: Grandparents are often called on for advice and support. They need to be good listeners while staying neutral. Grandparents are expected to be there to pick up the pieces but withdraw whenever they are regarded as being too interfering. Grandparents should respect boundaries but also be available for support when needed. Grandparents often have to to provide comfort, reassurance and answers for angry and confused children, not always knowing exactly what is going on themselves. During a separation, parents are often overwhelmed with their own issues and with making sure their children are OK. In this state, it’s easy overlook the valuable role that grandparents play. It is worth taking the time to sit down and talk with grandparents about what they are might be thinking and feeling, making sure they don’t feel taken for granted. It is OK to say you need them. The support of grandparents can be a crucial factor in how children cope with their parents' separation. Try to be clear about what you would like from them, and encourage them to do the same for you. Be open and honest. Keep in mind that when a couple’s relationship breaks down it doesn't just affect the immediate family members – it touches other family members in a number of ways too. You may also like to visit How mediation can assist grandparents on the National Family Mediation website.
Article | grandparents, co-parenting, identity
0 2 min read
Tips for communicating with your ex
As a separated parent, one of your biggest challenges will be to put aside your feelings about your ex to focus on your child. This is not an easy thing to do. It can take a long time to adjust to the end of a romantic relationship. When you have children together, you’ll need to renegotiate the terms of your relationship entirely. You're no longer partners, but you will still need to work together to raise the children. Although your conversations may be focused more on practicalities, it’s still important to share the positives of being parents. Look for opportunities to talk about your children's successes and try to appreciate what their other parent does for them – staying positive can help you keep the dialogue open. If your ex is making communication difficult it is easy for bad feelings and behaviour to escalate. While you may not be able to control your ex’s behaviour, you do have power over your own, and can at least try to be a positive influence.  Your ex may just be going through a tough patch. Keep sticking to your goal of focusing on the children's needs and stay patient, and you'll stand a better chance of getting through it without doing too much damage to your co-parenting relationship. Try to agree to keep the co-parenting conversations separate from all other discussions, for example, about the house or money. These are important issues so you will need to make sure they are being dealt with somewhere else. If face-to-face conversation is too hard for the moment, you might find using text or email easier. Just bear in mind that tone of voice and body language can affect how people respond to communication. The absence of these cues means that messages can be misinterpreted, so pay attention to how you phrase things, and give your ex the benefit of the doubt. If you need to raise something difficult,  let the other parent know you would like to talk and then agree a convenient time and place. Set an agenda so there are no surprises and you can both be prepared. Agreeing to meet in a public place can ensure you both behave civilly, and it also takes you out of the children’s environment. To keep your communication at its most effective, consider having regular meetings to review: he children's successes and achievements parenting time arrangements special events health, education and general welfare discipline and boundaries activities     Why it's worth the effort If you don't find a way of communicating with your ex that works for you both, it's going to be hard on everyone – the children will miss out and you could end up dreading every conversation with your child’s other parent.  Children's needs change as they grow older; your life will change too - it’s important that you can sit down together and talk about how these changes will affect you. Keeping the dialogue open and developing some good will makes the difficult conversations that much easier. Follow this link for further information on separating tips and advice.
Article | co-parenting, communication
0 3 min read
How to prepare for family mediation
Mediation is a process in which parents work together with a professional mediator to develop a mutually acceptable parenting plan. The parenting plan can be quite structured, specifying the day-to-day arrangements for the children, as well as plans for the school holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. You and your child’s other parent decide what to include. Parental conflict over arrangements can have a damaging effect on children. By working together in a safe and managed way with a mediator, parents can avoid these battles and come to agreement that suits the children’s needs.   How to prepare for the mediation process Approach mediation with an open mind and be willing to listen. Parents who are open and listen to their ex-partner are more able to reach a settlement. Do your homework before mediation andcome prepared with several options. Write down a few ideas and proposals so you can refer to them in the mediation session. What children need is often different from what parents need. Make sure you understand your children's needs, so you can stay focused on them and not on each other. Family mediation is not the place to focus on the other parent. The process is likely to break down if you and your ex-partner get into an argument about who said what. This is not a place to rehash old conflicts but rather to solve parenting problems after divorce or separation.  Be open to different ideas, and willing to compromise so you can reach a peaceful solution on behalf of your children.     Things that might help you while you are mediating Focusing on your children's needs rather than your own Acknowledging that children have different needs depending their age, temperament, and development Acknowledging the other parent's strengths Accepting that children need time with both parents What to take with you to the mediation meeting A proposal for residence and a time-sharing plan A calendar of school holidays, work schedules, and a schedule for your child's activities A flexible and business-like attitude A positive attitude you will be able to sort things out between yourselves Based on Tips to Prepare for Child Custody Mediation by Philip M Stahl  www.parentingafterdivorce.com 
Article | co-parenting, mediation, planning
0 3 min read
As children grow, their needs change
As children grow up and develop through different stages, they gradually become more involved in the world outside their immediate families. Starting nursery and school are both significant steps, usually marking the start of children developing their own social lives. By the time children reach their mid to late teens, it might seem like their friends have become more important than their family. For separated parents, life transitions like these can also trigger a need to review the childcare arrangements. If possible, it's better for children if both parents are involved in the planning and decision making around these stages and changes. Older children may want to take on part-time jobs or have weekend sleepovers at their friends’ homes. When children start school, parents need to consider that parenting time will be built around the beginning and end of the school day and term times. All parents will will also have to take responsibility for making sure homework gets done and school uniform is washed and ready for Monday morning. If your children spend part of the school week at both homes, you will find that good communication and planning are essential to keeping life easy. If you have a good co-parenting relationship, adapting the arrangements to suit your children's changing needs doesn’t have to be a big issue. If, however, you find agreeing changes with the other parent difficult and avoid discussing the need to review things, you may find things suddenly aren't working anymore. Most parenting plans have a shelf life of about two years before they need to be reviewed. Sticking rigidly to an outdated plan can be very constricting to children. Be prepared to accept that reviewing the arrangements is a normal part of sharing the joys and challenges of watching your children grow up.   New parents and siblings It's common for children to become part of a new stepfamily after their parent's relationship ends. The prospect of a baby brother or sister can be exciting to children of all ages, but can also feel like a threat. If you're the other parent, you may have mixed feelings about your ex's new family but your priority should be to  support your children. If you find it difficult to support your ex, try to see it as an opportunity to show goodwill by accommodating changes to arrangements around the birth of the baby and being flexible around parenting time. Follow this link for further information children in the middle after a separation.
Article | children, co-parenting, family
0 3 min read