Ex partners

Broken HeartMany people find themselves in a situation where they have difficulties with ex-partners.

Ask anyone who has been through a relationship breakdown and they will tell you how difficult and painful it sometimes can be, even without children.

When children are involved this can be even more distressing and as Jill Curtis from Family Onwards says: ‘The urge to put one of the partners in the role of a villain can be tempting, but the reality is that this does not help anyone’.

An area that can cause conflict is legal rights and responsibilities particularly relating to contact and access issues with the children. The law relating to parental responsibility, etc, is different if the non-resident parent isn’t married at the time of the child’s birth. You will find below further information from organisations that can give you advice and explain what parental responsibility is, who can have it, etc.

There may be times when your child/children appear distressed after contact with the non-resident parent. This is sometimes misunderstood by adults resulting in contact being withdrawn. The initial stages in a break-up are difficult and there will be times when children will get upset as they try to make sense of what is happening to them and their family. Some parents also find themselves being held to ransom over financial support for their child/children. Understandably this creates anxiety and further stress, but there are steps you can take to get help and advice.

You may be entitled to legal aid, but only if you have a recorded history of domestic abuse. Advice can be obtained free from any solicitor, under the legal advice and assistance scheme. Citizens Advice Bureaux, local Law and Advice Centres and some Community Centres hold legal surgeries where you can get free and confidential help and information.

Initially relationship break-ups may be difficult and painful, but support and advice from a variety of sources is available. After talking with parents, recognised organisations and authorities, we’ve listed some common problems experienced by men and women and listed contacts for help, advice and some tips on how to manage if you find yourself in this situation.

Common Problems

  • Dealing with own anger, upset 
  • Access/contact arrangements 
  • Financial support 
  • Children’s emotions/feelings/demands 
  • Communication with ex-partner 
  • ‘Letting go’ of relationship 
  • Ex partners new partner/family 
  • Cultural differences 

If you have concerns about your relationship with your ex, ask a personal question and receive confidential email advice from our Relationships Expert.

Top tips

  1. Remember you’re not alone 
  2. Be careful not to itemise things your ex-partner has or hasn’t done. For example, if s/he is 10 minutes late for an access visit, focus on the positive rather than the negative. The important thing is that they see the children 
  3. Be prepared to listen to each other 
  4. Allow the children to express themselves and be listened to 
  5. Ask for help 
  6. Remember your ex is a parent too 
  7. Don’t use the children as bargaining chips 
  8. Know your rights 

Further advice and information

Rights of Women
Tel 0207-251 6577

Family Rights Group
Freephone 0800 731 1696

Tel 01788-573241

Many of these organisations can provide you with information leaflets and free advice, explaining your legal rights and further contact details of other sources of help and advice.