How to agree contact with your children after separating

You may be feeling upset and confused by a break-up and it's easy to let anger or guilt get in the way. It may help to talk it through with someone who can be sympathetic and who will keep a clear head, such as friends, family or even perhaps a professional mediator.  

You'll need to agree on the following points:

  • When and where your children will visit
  • How the parent living apart can stay in touch in between visits
  • How you are going to settle any disputes in future so it won't affect your children.

“We’re separating and know our children need to see both of us but we don’t know where to start.”

“We seem to be arguing more than ever now that we’ve separated.”

“My partner left me for someone else but now wants to see our children. Didn't they lose the right when they left?”

shutterstock_128394359.jpg

Separation doesn't always mean the end of arguments, and you may need help in settling disagreements from your break up. Once you are able to put your personal disagreements aside you will be able to address more practical issues, such as your children's routine and visits. You may need, and benefit from, some help to finish the argument and draw a line under your relationship as partners so that you can move on to being co-parents. 

If there is a problem meeting each other during contact, you may find it helps to have a neutral meeting place, such as a Child Contact Centre. Here, there are no arguments or family rows, and parents do not have to meet one another there. Regarding bad feeling over issues of contact, it’s vital to remember one thing: that your children have the right and the need to go on seeing both their parents, no matter how angry you might be with your ex.

For their own confidence and self esteem, your children need to see that your ex cares and is there for them. If it is the father who has left home, and you were married, he would retain 'parental responsibility' for your children. He may also have this if he is named as the father on the birth certificate. If the child’s father was given parental responsibility by a court, he does not lose it when you separate. Although you may not see it now, children continuing a relationship with both their parents has real benefits, not only for the children, but also for you to be able to share parenting responsibilities.  

Free benefit advice

Do you want free advice about benefits? Get tailor-made information for yourself, family or friends online with the www.gov.uk Benefits Calculators. Enter your information anonymously about your savings, earnings and outgoings and receive an estimate of benefits, tax credits or pension you may be entitled to. You can save your results for up to seven days and download or print your results for future reference.

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

Did you find our advice helpful? Help us help more people by filling in our survey