Support for separated and separating parents

You may take a while to sort through the disagreements that came with the separation. Get all the support you need to sort it through, as early as possible to avoid any long-lasting damage to the relation with your co-parent and most importantly, your child(ren).

By the age of sixteen 42% of children do not live with both their biological parents, which demonstrates the number of families that will be in a similar position to yourselves. Divorce or separation is not always detrimental to the well-being of the child – as long as this is managed well.

5 top tips from CAFCASS for anyone going through separation

You may take a while to sort through the conflict that came with the separation. Get all the support you need to sort it through, as early as possible attend a Mediation Service. While you are in the thick of parenting decisions and settlements, your children shouldn’t be. Reassure them you are working to resolve things. 

Many parents benefit from the advice of lawyers, to inform them about their rights and responsibilities in making parenting plans and resolving financial settlements. Be aware that getting legal advice is very different from taking legal action. Court processes are necessary for a small percent of the population who have serious risks and issues that cannot be resolved otherwise. Research shows that engaging in court can do further and long term damage to your relationship with the child’s other parent.
Take good legal advice, but try to minimise the need for legal action

Building a parenting alliance with your ex partner is crucial to your child’s emotional security after separation. That doesn’t mean being best friends, but it does mean agreeing on how to communicate safely and effectively about your child’s needs. Enlist the support of a good mediator if that is hard to achieve on your own.

Despite the acrimony that many parents feel for each other during the divorce process, most children want to keep their relationships with each parent and need support to do that. Loyalty conflicts are common when children see and feel a lack of respect and co-operation between their parents. Worse still is the child who survives emotionally by distancing one parent in order to keep sides with the other. Effective management of the adult emotions involved means everything for children’s well-being, especially their need to preserve supportive relationships with both parents.

The longer parents’ take to build an alliance and resolve their disputes, the more energy a child has to use to cope with strain and stress in the family. That can drain a child of energy. They need to get on with their normal development: learning, building their identity and esteem, having good friendships, and achieving their goals.

Child Arrangements

When you and your child’s other parent/carer cannot agree on child arrangements, this plan works by one parent (you) starting a plan and making some suggestions before sending your proposal to your co-parent. This process can continue until you reach agreement over some, most, or all areas. The parenting plan can be downloaded and shared with relevant professionals and your children themselves if necessary. If you do go to court in the future, it is very likely that judges will expect you to have started a parenting plan.

Parenting Plan - Cafcass - Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service

There are lots of free, useful resources, information and advice that can be found on the CAFCASS website

Parental Responsibility 

Read more around parental rights and responsibilities

You should not make accusations towards the other parent or report any accusations towards services if they are not true or necessary as this could cause further detriment and unwanted stress for your child. 

Free Support Services 

Stronger relationships courses is a free 6-week online course that incorporates both live facilitated group sessions with an experienced parenting team member, as well as set online tasks that can be completed in your own time. The course explores various aspects of everyday interactions, fostering better relationships and improving outcomes for children.

Fegans offer a free online course for parenting after separation

Amicable offer useful divorce guides, tips and support. Also contains a free app for goal setting and producing a parenting plan with your ex-partner. Amicable offer a free 15-minute consultation call. If you do go ahead with legal proceedings, there is additional costs.

Advicenow recognise the hard reality that getting help from a solicitor is financially difficult or impossible for many people. So, they aim to help you with the knowledge, skills and confidence that you need to navigate your way through, to a happier future. 

Coram Children's Legal Centre and Child Law Advice Service provides free online and over the phone legal advice and information on child and family issues.

Gingerbread offer online advice, support and information around some of the most common topics single parents ask about.

Relate offers an extensive range of self-help resources are available for free. Relate offer face-to-face and online counselling and mediation across Cheshire East at a cost.

See it differently offer online videos of scenarios of parents in conflict and then how they approach issues differently.

Family Lives offer online support and advice to families around divorce, shared parenting, relationship advice, step-parents, single parents and family life.

Onlymums and Onlydads are separate websites that support parents who are looking to make the best decisions for their family during separation and divorce.

Match Mothers is a charity that offers non-judgemental support and information to mothers apart from their children in a wide variety of circumstances

Citizens Advice are a charity that provide a free and confidential service to everyone in the community, covering issues such as family life and separation.

South Cheshire Clasp provide free face to face and over the phone support for single parents/stepparent families – including one to one counselling sessions for both children and their parents and short parenting courses.

Free Co-parenting Apps

Cozi - Create shared calendars and to-do lists, share photos and recipes with family, and communicate with your co-parent. It’s easy to use and completely free (with ads). While not strictly a co-parenting app, it has everything you need to organize family schedules between two homes

Famcal - A calendar and scheduling app that lets separated families share events, tasks, and notes, all from one convenient place. We like the colour-coded organizer that identifies each family member. The free version is very basic and you need to upgrade to premium to access

MyMob - The totally free co-parenting app created by Stepfamilies Australia and Drummond Street Services. It comes with a shared calendar, contacts storage, wish lists, messaging with profanity filter, and a virtual fridge to post photos and notes. Many separated families use it because of court mandates.

Appclose - Completely free co-parenting app that has tools normally found only on paid apps. It lets you organize schedules and communicate with family members via the messaging feature. You can also create a shared parenting plan and track and settle payments.

Time Tree - One of the simplest co-parenting apps on our list. It’s easy to organize family, school and work schedules and communicate with family members. You can chat right from the event calendar, share notes and lists, and create multiple schedules.


National Family Mediation | We Help Families in Conflict

Family mediators help you to turn your arguments into agreements to help you make decisions for the future, to enable you to move on with your lives. It helps you focus on the issues affecting both of you, for example, parenting, property and money, and what to do about it all now that you are separated. Family mediation is faster, cheaper and less stressful than going to court to try to reach agreements on issues connected to your divorce or separation. 

The National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC)

More than a million children have no contact whatsoever with one of their parents after separation. Unfortunately, some children experience behavioural issues including antisocial behaviour, distress, unhappiness, and both physical and emotional problems. NACCC is the only charity in the UK dedicated to solving this problem by providing safe spaces where children can meet the parents they don’t live with. 

Some parents may be eligible for Legal aid to receive mediation free of charge. 

“Co-parenting is not a competition. It’s a collaboration of two homes working together with the best interest of the child at heart. Work for your kids, not against them.” - Heather Hetchler

Cheshire East Healthy Relationships Team

For further information, support or advice please contact the healthy relationships team at Cheshire East, pop into your local Children’s Centre/Family Hub or call the Family Help Front Door on 0300 123 5012 (option 3, option 1) for an informal discussion.


Cheshire East’s Healthy Relationships Programme does not promote nor endorse the services advertised on this website. Anyone seeking to use/access such services does so at their own risk and should make all appropriate enquiries about fitness for purpose and suitability to meet their needs.

Page last reviewed: 10 January 2024

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