Before You Separate

The break-up of a marriage, a civil partnership or a relationship can be a very stressful and traumatic time. Often coming at the end of a lengthy and difficult process, the decision to end it is not an easy one, especially if children are involved.

It is important to gather information about options you have as early as possible. Knowing the facts can help increase your control over the situation, and will enable you to plan realistically for your future. In the end, no matter what you decide, you will want to feel that the choices you have made will lead to a new way of living—one which will help you feel good about yourself and confident about the future

Commonly Held Myths

There are always myths surrounding important life events. These are some that you might have heard about ending a relationship:

  • There’s something wrong with you if you’re not in a relationship.
  • Children need both parents and boys especially need their fathers, so it is better to stay together for their sakes
  • Single mothers ‘have it easy’ and get handouts.
  • I’m a failure to myself and my family


  • Most of us would prefer to share our life with a supportive partner, but as long as you have a good relationship with yourself, you don’t need a partner to have a happy and fulfilling life.
  • It is estimated that 32% of marriages will end in divorce. The most common length of a marriage at separation is around 8 years.
  • About half the people who divorce have children. What matters to children is that they are able to maintain quality relationships with both their parents, whether or not they continue to share a house with them.
  • 51% of single parents are in the workforce.

Important Facts to Consider

There are important legal, financial and housing issues you will need to think about when making the decision to end a relationship.

Remember, there is no right way. The important thing is working out what is right for you.

  • If you have children, you may need to think about what to tell them, and consider what arrangements need to be made for them.
  • What is your current financial situation?
  • How will it be affected if you decide to separate from your partner? Are you eligible for government assistance?
  • Do you feel comfortable and safe where you are living? Will you need to make other housing arrangements?
  • Even if you are on good terms and able to negotiate directly with your partner, it is important that you explore your options and are provided with good quality information.

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

National Family Mediation (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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