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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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  • This is a tragic story of coercive control of a young man by his girlfriend. It is shocking when such behaviour exists regardless of whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman. Domestic abuse against men is considered by many to be far more common than people think and under-reported. There are likely to be various reasons for this, but one that occurs frequently is the fear that they will lose access to their children. The Office for National Statistics says "The most common type of domestic abuse experienced in the last year was partner abuse, with 4.5% of adults reporting this type of abuse. Whilst a higher proportion of women reported experience of partner abuse in the last year than men (5.9% compared with 3%), similar proportions of men and women reported experience of family abuse". Please support us by liking, sharing and following us, making a donation, registering with us for free or becoming a member.
  • As the number of applications to family courts reached a new high of 52,168 last year, grandparents are also increasingly seeking to protect their relationships with their grandchildren. Not sure it needed 'experts' to confirm that most of these are paternal grandparents. Please support us by liking, sharing and following us, making a donation, registering with us for free or becoming a member.
  • We often hear of fathers who are denied time with their children from day one. Sometimes they deny paternity, even when a child looks like their dad. Recently published US research, focusing on separated parents of infants, showed that not only did dads spend more time with their children when they looked like them and they were sure of their paternity, but increased fathers involvement and resulted in significantly better health of their children by the time they were one year old. Mums wishing the best for their children should think twice if they are considering restricting access by fathers to their babies without compelling, unselfish reasons. Please support us by sharing this, following us, liking, registering for free, on our website, donating or becoming a member of FNF.
  • The crime wave on London’s streets is shocking. Who would have thought that London would ever surpass New York as a murder capital, even if only for the month of March 2018 (in general US figures remain far worse). The problems of violent crime are no-doubt many and complex. Socioeconomic factors pay a part, but one striking fact keeps cropping up – fatherlessness. Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged this. David Lammy, an MP whose constituency has been badly affected by knife and other serious crime observed “I have sat with too many parents, usually mothers, who have lost their children to knife crime,” and “usually the child that has committed the offence comes from a background where the father has been absent.” Indeed, that is the case in the vast majority of cases where children lack positive paternal role models and these young people are nine times more likely to commit crimes. Other studies support this. One 2014 paper on The Effect of Single Parent Family on Child Delinquency, stated “A very real connection between delinquent behaviour, and single parent families in particular mother-only families, produce more delinquent children than two parent families.” The common assumption is that dads don’t want more involvement with their children, abandon them and are ‘deadbeats’. However, 2017 research by Dr John Barry of University College London suggests that “Men treasure fatherhood. Their sense of responsibility to their own children trumps all other concerns and their own fathers are the biggest influencers on their attitude”. Our experience mirrors this. Thousands each year contact us looking for support in maintaining those relationships after family separation or even when the parents never actually lived together. Some 35,000 family court applications a year are made by fathers who wish to retain their parental roles. They then go through a protracted and emotionally as well as financially expensive process, to get a Child Arrangements Order. Where they are successful it is because a judge has determined that the paternal relationship is in the best interest of the child. Yet when those orders are broken family courts rarely act to enforce their own orders in the 6,000 applications to do so each year. Many other parents give up before getting to this stage. Ministerial assurances that 'judges have the powers' are simply not good enough as, for various reason, courts are not applying them. Ministers demonstrate, at best, an ignorance of the problem and at worst wilful negligence and dicing with children's lives – and it seems with the lives of those affected by the most recent wave of knife and gun crime in London. Support FNF by sharing this, liking our page, following us, registering for free, donating or joining.
  • Isn't it about time in the modern world that we stopped making separate rules for men and for women? Judges already have the discretion to take into account any mitigating circumstances such as child care - when sentencing men AND women. Women want to be believed when they make accusations. Women don't want to be cross-examined by their alleged perpetrators and now they want to be treated differently when they are being sentenced. The CSJ is recommending spending less on (women's) prisons and giving the money instead to services specifically provided for women (usually by women's groups too). It seems, from this report that only vulnerable women deserve more to be spent on them. But there are many more men in prison than women, and whatever we may believe about the gender vulnerability gap, that must mean there are likely to be many more vulnerable men than vulnerable women in prison in total. Assuming they want to, judges are perfectly enabled to being fair to all people already, irrespective of gender, based on evidence. In this day and age, the last thing we want is to promote further discrimination between genders. For the record, abused men also want to be believed in court, nor do they feel safe being cross-examined by their exes, and many men would benefit from constructive alternatives to prison - that's almost a no-brainer. And on the subject of government gender pay gaps - let's have an up to date comparison between the resources provided for helping vulnerable men and resources provided for helping vulnerable women. Let's see someone demonstrate that less than 100 times more is currently being spent on women than on men. Although many more men ask for our support than women (ask yourselves why), we are a gender-inclusive charity, but we have to speak up at some recent trends to ignore such a large part of the population. When they try to make a case for treating women better than men, are the CSJ suggesting women should be given the whole cake and eat it?
  • Research in one US state shows how judges were more likely to exercise gender bias than the public in determining shared parenting arrangements. All other things being equal, just 3% awarded more parenting time to dads than mums. Support FNF by sharing this, liking our page, following us, registering for free, donating or joining.

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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