Sandra* felt that things were not working for her and her husband. She did not feel threatened or controlled, but they had a child and she was worried and confused about the implications for all of them if she sought a separation. She decided to come to us to seek advice about her situation if they were to split up.
The adviser showed her the information about ‘ending a relationship’ in the ‘family’ section of the Citizens Advice website, www.citizensadvice.org.uk The first thing that Sandra was reassured about was that she wouldn’t have to go to court at this stage unless there were things that she and her partner really couldn’t agree about. If they were struggling to decide, they could ask a mediator to help them to reach an agreement.
With regard to her child, again Sandra was advised at first to keep arrangements about who the child would live with, access and child maintenance as amicable as possible, using an informal ‘family based arrangement’. They would need to decide what to do about their accommodation. Sandra was reassured that there were very few circumstances where she could be forced to leave her home, but they would need to take account of what was practical and could be afforded. Finances would be an important issue when making decisions. Sandra would have to check how much she had in bank accounts, savings and investments. She would need to know what debts she had in her own name, or any which were in joint names. Some entitlement to her partner’s pension might also come into the equation. She could ask for financial support from her partner as soon as they separated. She could also ask us for a benefit check, or she could use one of the benefit calculators ‘Turn2us’ or ‘Entitledto’ herself.
Sandra decided that she would go home and read the website information and try to get together all the information she needed. If she decided that she wanted to go further, she would make an appointment for a benefit check, bringing in details of her savings, income, childcare payments and existing benefits.
* Not her real name as client confidentiality is never breached
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