As a separated parent, your financial situation will probably have changed. But it’s important to sort out your finances as soon as possible so that you can make sure your child is supported financially.
Your new financial situation
If you’ve been in a relationship that has recently ended, there will probably be three key things you need to do:
1. Share out any joint assets that you own together with your ex-partner.
2. Make sure both you and they have enough to live on.
3. Make sure your child is taken care of financially.
Taking control of your finances
It can be hard to think about money when there’s so much other stuff going on. But many separated parents find that getting a grip on their finances is worth the effort.
As well as making sure your child is provided for, it can help you to:
- boost your self-esteem
- move on with your life
- show you’re a good role model to your child
- teach your child money management tips that will help them in the future.
Here are three ways you can start taking control of your finances:
1. Deal with any debts. If you’re in debt or worried about getting into debt, deal with it straight away. For professional advice, there are many other useful organisations that can help you.
2. Check if you are entitled to any financial help (such as benefits or tax credits). For more about this, see Financial help for separated parents
3. Make a budget. This is where you work out what money you’ve got coming in and going out.
Talking about money
Talking about money with the other parent can be difficult. But, as we’ve said, it’s really important to make arrangements for your children as soon as possible.
These tips will hopefully help you to talk about money with your child’s other parent:
Be realistic. If you’ve recently separated, you and the other parent are probably both going to need to make adjustments to your lifestyles.
Keep the focus on your child. Think about what they need, and how you and their other parent can both contribute.
Try and be flexible. Both your financial situations will probably change again, so if you’re willing to compromise now, it will be easier to change things in the future.
For more guidance on having a conversation with your child’s other parent, see talking about child maintenance.
Avoiding arguments about money
Money is one of the biggest causes of conflict for parents who live apart. As we’ve mentioned, there’s often less to go round, which can lead to stress, resentment and arguments.
Plus, it can be tempting to use money to get revenge for any wrongdoing you feel has taken place, whether it be stopping payments or trying to ‘hit them where it hurts’.
But conflict can be really harmful to children. So it’s important that you do your very best to make financial arrangements that take care of everyone in your separated family, and try to do it in a reasonable way.
There are lots of suggestions for dealing with conflict and working together in our guide, Managing conflict with your child's other parent.