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The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

Emotional Support

It is not uncommon for separation and divorce to be a life shattering experience, so if you feel that way, you are not alone. Everything that you care about, including the relationship with your children, your financial status, your ability to function at work and your health can be put at risk through prolonged proceedings.

Try to think of ways to help yourself continue to be able to function under these extremely difficult circumstances. Try to do things that you know are good for you and stay healthy. This will help your children, because they need you to be well. If you feel sad and angry, which is totally normal, try to find ways to deal with this. Find people you can talk to or ways to express your anger and sadness. Maybe going to the gym will help, but do whatever will help you.

One of the most important things to realise is that we are here for you. We have a helpline which you can call  on 0300 0330 363 (9am - 10pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends), and we have branch meetings across the country.

For online support you can sign up to FNF's online forum, open to our members. You can share your story, hear others and receive support and advice from our other members. For more information about the online forum and the many other benefits of FNF membership please click here.

You can also access DSG's local counselling support groups, provided by trained psychotherapists, on 0844 800 9098

If there is something you don’t understand please call the National Helpline on 0300 0300 363.

We are keen to hear from you about how you cope, which might help others in the future. If you would like to add to this page, if you have found a website of real help, or you have read a book which you would like others to enjoy, please e-mail

Health and mental well-being

Anxiety and low mood

Anxiety and low mood are common after family breakups. This is distressing but normal and will settle with adjusting to the new situation. Having said that, times of divorce or separation are bound to have an impact on your emotional and mental well-being.
In order for you to keep on going and because your children need you to be there for them, do find a source of help, sooner rather than later.

The first port of call is your GP. They will be able to offer you support with regards to the emotional impact of separation and divorce. They can make an assessment if you require a referral for counselling or to the well-being team. They may also advise taking a course of medication should this be required.

Do try to find understanding sources of support - family, friends or other people within FNF, who will help you through the journey ahead. If you require professional support it is important that you get it. Professionals are obliged to maintain confidentiality in a way that other people might not.

“After I split up with my girlfriend, I felt jittery and I suffered with a lack of confidence”
“I was isolated and I couldn’t sleep”

If you are feeling anxious or low your GP can help, or click here for NHS Direct.

Feeling anxious?

Suggested links:

Feeling low?

Suggested links: - the purpose of the site is ultimately to provide the UK with a huge counselling support network, enabling those in distress to find a counsellor close to them and appropriate for their needs. This is a free, confidential service that will hopefully encourage those in distress to seek help.

Can't sleep?

Suggested links:

Feeling angry?

Suggested links:

end faq

Drugs & Alcohol

Looking after yourself

After a family break-up, it can be tempting to stop looking after yourself, and to turn to alcohol or drugs. But they do have negative effects.

“I started drinking bottles of wine a night”
“Cannabis was the only thing that would get me to sleep”

If you are suffering with these problems it is a good idea to go and speak to your GP.

Suggested links:


Keeping Fit

Eating well

Meal times can be especially painful, but it’s always important to eat well and drink a lot of water.

“Meal times are the hardest”

Easy and healthy food recipes

Suggested links:

Keeping Fit

Try to fit some exercise into your day as this may help you too. It may be the last thing on your mind but is worth trying.

“I felt going to the gym helped, it cleared my mind”

Suggested links:


Personal relationships

New relationships

After divorce and separation you can often feel wary of starting relationships with new people. There are no rules as to when you should or should not start a new relationship. Sometimes new relationships can have an impact on your parenting arrangements and your children might feel upset by this new development. Remember to be sensitive to the fact that children might take some time to get used to a new person in your life, but you should not feel guilty for this and try and make sure you reassure them that you love them just the same. It is crucial to spend some special parent time alone with your children.

If you are a member of FNF you can receive some good feedback from other members on our forum or through our local contact list. Other people have gone through the same situations as you – it really is good to talk.

Changing relationships

After separation and divorce your relationships with family members and friends can change. Some for the better with renewed bonds, but some relationships can be tested. Sometimes you can feel that nobody understands how bad it is. If you are feeling this way please pick up the phone to our helpline, go to a branch meeting or get on our members forum.
What you are feeling is normal, and many others have felt the same way. You may feel alone, but talking to others may reassure you that you are not alone and FNF is here to support you.


Time management

What can I do?

Depending on your own resilience it can sometimes take as long as a couple of years, or more, before any change starts to become your new ‘normal’.

Nevertheless, what do you do in the meantime? When we focus on personal emotional problems time has a habit of slowing down. What will be a great help is to try and put some structure into your days, even when it may not be necessary. Try planning for the next day the night before, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go to plan. Try and recognise the small achievements. The point is: at least you tried to have a structure to your day, which may help it flow more easily.

Some people find that volunteering helps bring structure to their week, to volunteer with FNF call 0300 0300 110 or e-mail

You could also contact your local CVS for more information about voluntary groups in your area.


Work life

Are you struggling?

Separation and divorce can also have an effect on your work, productivity and your performance can sometimes slump. Understandably, as your thoughts are else where. Some of our members have not been able to continue working, but some have thrown themselves into their work. There is no one size that fits all. Try and speak to your employer. Sometimes employers can be very understanding, they might have even gone through it themselves. Or sometimes, they are not so sympathetic. This can depend on the size of the company you work, for example. People who are self-employed often find it particularly difficult.

Try and speak to somebody if you are struggling to cope and if you can let your employer know what is going on. If you are experiencing difficulties with your employer, please get in touch with our helpline 0300 0330 363.

It might also help to read our time management section and our financial problems section.




When someone has suffered trauma of any sort, it is advisable to share these feelings with someone who is able to help. Often your doctor will have a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) attached to their practice who can help even if you don’t want anti-depressants. Many therapists or counsellors in private practice can help but it is important you check their qualifications and most importantly that you feel comfortable with them.


Talking to your children

Do you find it difficult to talk to your children?

It can be difficult to know what to say to your children based on their age and their own grasp of the situation. Rather than focus on talking to them you could try asking them if they have any questions they want answering. Letting them talk will give you a greater understanding of what they feel which will help you respond to their needs. Helping them cope will also help you cope. If they don’t feel comfortable asking questions, you can try “what do you think about…?” “How do you feel about?” “What would you like?”

Often children can feel anger, upset, confusion and sadness and you may struggle with how best to talk to your child or deal with their behaviour. Their feelings and needs can be expressed through their behaviour, which on the surface can just seem like they are misbehaving or being difficult. It is also worth considering that their anger may surface some years later when they approach teenage years when their body and hormones are changing and they start to develop relationships for themselves. Children can often compare their ideas of what makes a happy relationship with what they have experienced, and get angry or confused.

If you need any support call our helpline on 0300 0300 363.


Financial Problems

Financial support

Divorce and separation is expensive. If you have financial problems one excellent source of help is your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau: more details at It is best to communicate early with any of your creditors, in an effort to reach agreement with them about a sensible and affordable way for you to repay your debt. For further advice, see the Money Advice Service.

If you are struggling with child maintenance payments visit or call our helpline on 0300 0300 363 or contact

If you need debt advice you could visit the website of the Debt Advice Foundation


Suggested Books and Organisations

You might find these helpful

Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert

Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerly

Overcoming Low Self Esteem by Melanie Fennell

The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams

The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck


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  • A moving tale, shared with us by Suzy Miller of Tears are falling onto my fingers as I type. I hope they don’t drown my keyboard. She’s moving away. Just saying it again out loud brings on another bout of sobs. I don’t usually cry much over my children. But today is different. When she moved up the road - 10 mins by car without traffic - that was a relief. She needed her space with her boyfriend, and I was happy for her and for me. And that short distance became filled with joint trips to the gym and to Aldi - a regular pilgrimage. And distance did indeed make the heart grow fonder. But now she is moving to the West Country and it’s more than a day trip away. Which shouldn’t seem so far away. Yet I can’t stop crying whenever I think about how she will no longer be just ten minutes up the road. My glasses have steamed up, my nose is running, and it seems so silly. But I feel like the umbilical cord will suddenly be stretched so far that it will finally snap, flying back, smashing it’s entrails into my sodden face. You’d think by aged 20, that profound connection would be withered and weakened. But apparently not. A part of me is going with her, but it doesn’t want to leave it’s purchase in my heart. It’s clawing at me and trying very hard to stay in place, and doesn’t want to let go and fly with my little girl to new horizons. There is no logical explanation. We have phone and Skype and probably won’t always have much to say. It’s the proximity that is wailing for the boundaries to remain at 10 minutes away by car. And I can’t help but feel a deep compassion for those parents - usually the dads - who have to move away when the family splits. To have to be a drive away, an organise-your-time-to-be-able-to-see-them distance away. A wrenching of the heart away. I wonder if her dad felt the same suffering. I’m sure he did. I’m on my 7th tissue and my eyes will be swollen tomorrow no doubt. I’m glad it’s Sunday and I can stay hidden at home. And this is just part of the normal sway of life. I can get in the car and drive those 3 hours whenever I choose. I don’t have to ask the permission of another parent. I don’t have to stay within the boundaries of a court order. I’m lucky. Tears are falling onto my fingers as I type. I hope they don’t drown my keyboard.
  • Have you ever wondered about this apparent and very worrying taboo? I have. Are we different in the UK? It's not just children - According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), reported male victims of domestic violence at the hand of their partners make up more than a third of the total. Check out some stats in the chart
  • Whilst we support the principle that both parents should contribute towards their children (in many different ways), the very polarised view that's so often in the media is about arrears in child maintenance apparently owed to mothers. This recurring theme rarely seems to consider the many dads who are driven into poverty and suffering by absurd assessments of what they should pay, despite having little or no money - and who are often also (to add insult to injury - or is it the other way round?) being denied access to their children at the very same time. Furthermore, some of these mothers also earn far more than their exes due to benefits, tax credits and/or salaries, and the assessments do not take any of this into account. This side of the story must be heard too - children deserve more! So here's a piece based on an article written by one of our Trustees which is also published by Marilyn Stowe, in response to a recent very one-sided Times article: And here is a link to the Stowe Blog - it's similar but you can add your comments too. Please do!
  • Very sad story... What is it that drives a parent to take the ultimate step to punish a dad or to exclude him from their child's life?
  • Yes! Magistrates take the law into their own hands on breached order contempt of court!
  • Families Need Fathers updated their cover photo.

FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel


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