Getting into and the benefit of work

When people are separating there are lots of decisions to be made about work. If care is shared will each parent work part time? Will one work more and the other take a greater share of the caring responsibilities? How will income be affected by the decisions made? What impact will this have on each of you? And on the children? Do one or both of you need to retrain?

Where parents are working at the time of separation it is important to retain stability of income as much as possible and to think through the implications of any changes carefully. For example, increased working hours may enable you to access tax credits; reducing working hours or changing shift patterns may help with childcare and childcare costs. If you decide to study to enable you to work, or to earn more in the longer term, you need to know about the possibilities and drawbacks financially (see Training and Studying).

The reason for all the changes that are happening in the welfare system is that the government wants to make people better off in work than out. In the past some people on benefits have been poorer if they returned to work because of losing help with things like mortgage interest payments as well as the high cost of childcare. The tax credit system is designed to help people get into work by providing a top up for those on low incomes and additional help with childcare (see Tax Credits).

Family mediation can help you think through the range of benefit options around work and training available to you and their implications now and into the future.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family.

NFM services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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Help and support or separated familes