Helping Your Child Through a Separation


Parenting NI has been a leading organisation for supporting parents in Northern Ireland since 1979. 

In a guest blog for Life Law NI, Emma Lyttle from Parenting NI provides us with some information on how parents can help their child(ren) through relationship breakdown.


In the UK, it is estimated that more that 40% of marriages will ultimately end in divorce, leaving more than one in four children experiencing divorce by the age of 16*

All parents will be concerned about the effect any separation will have on their children.  Even if both parents mutually agreed on the separation, it will still be difficult to cope.  Separation is an upsetting and confusing time for parents and children.  It can be a time of stress and anxiety with voices being raised and feelings reaching boiling point.

Regardless of a child’s age, they are likely to experience similar emotions to their parents, although express them in a different way.  Some of the reactions to separation children may experience include feeling angry, guilty, a conflict of loyalty between their parents, denial, and mood changes, tantrums, health or school problems.

Talking with your children is vital during the separation process.  Children need to be told where each parent will be living, how contact will be maintained with their non-resident parent, and that mummy and daddy still love them and will continue to be there for them. 

Having access to both parents and trying to maintain a routine will help your children to adapt to the initial changes.  Acknowledge that it is okay to feel sad or angry and help your children to find healthy ways to express their emotions.  Reassure your children that the separation is not their fault and explain that they cannot fix or change what is happening in the family.  Above all, try to shield your children from any arguments as children experience parental conflict as stressful and upsetting.

The whole family is going to need time to adapt to the changes so try to take one step at a time and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Talking about your feelings with a family member or friend, whom you trust, will help to reduce your feelings of isolation.





*Information taken from Office of National Statistics


Belfast Area Domestic Violence Partnership: Legal Remedies at a Glance

CEdgarI am a proud member of the Belfast Area Domestic Violence Partnership.

This is a dynamic group of agencies and individuals who want to improve services for all victims of domestic violence.

Agencies involved include Women’s Aid, PSNI, Social Services, Court Services and solicitors.

We have recently developed a document setting out legal remedies in domestic violence which has been set out in the Infographic below. This Infographic is easy to follow and sets out plainly the remedies available to you if you are the victim of domestic abuse.

This is what we are all about at Life Law NI – straightforward, easy to understand information.

I would urge anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse in their relationship to have a look at the Infographic – it will help point you in the right direction to getting the help you need.



Women’s Aid: Don’t Silence the Violence

Here is a short film entitled ‘Don’t Silence The Violence’ that was launched by Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN) last year to raise awareness of domestic violence.  

It’s aim? Quite simply to challenge and break down the barriers that result in women staying in abusive relationships and keeping silent about their abuse. 

Check out our article on domestic abuse for help in getting protection from an abusive partner or contact Claire or Karen for assistance.

Domestic Violence – The Facts

domesticviolenceHere is a guide to the options available to you if you are in an abusive relationship…

What is Domestic Violence?

Despite what many people think, abuse from a partner is not limited to physical harm – a whole range of controlling and abusive behaviour can constitute domestic violence including the following:-

  • Threatening behaviour
  • Verbal abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial control
  • Emotional abuse

I am in an abusive relationship – what can I do?

If you are suffering domestic abuse in your relationship, you are not alone. The good news is that there is protection and help available which can go some way to help you break free from your abusive relationship:-

Police protection

The police treat domestic violence very seriously and have dedicated domestic abuse teams.   It is important that you contact the police immediately if you have suffered abuse from a partner – they are liable to be arrested for any offences committed against you and face a criminal sentence if convicted.

Court protection

You can also apply to the Court for legal protection against your abuser under legislation called the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Order (NI) 1998.

The Court can make two types of Order against your abuser:-

Non-Molestation Order

This is an Order that your abuser cannot molest, harass, pester, use or threaten violence against you. It means that they cannot harass you directly (in person, by text, phone, email or social media) and they also cannot get someone else to harass you on their behalf.

Occupation Order

This is an Order that the Court can make if you live with your abuser or if they have some right to reside in your home (for example, if they are on the tenancy agreement or a joint owner). If the Court grants you an Occupation Order against your abuser, this means that they can be removed from your home and barred from returning to it.

The Courts can also make an exclusion zone, excluding your abuser from a particular place, for example from the street you live in or your place of work.

These Orders can be made on an emergency basis if there has been an incident of abuse within the past 7 days.

If the Court makes Orders in your favour, these are served on your abuser by the police and take effect once served. It is a criminal offence to breach any of these Orders and the police have powers to arrest a person for breaching a Non-Molestation Order.

Support services

If you are suffering from domestic violence, you may need ongoing emotional and practical support and help to break free from the relationship. There are a number of organisations available to provide such assistance, such as the Domestic and Sexual Violence helpline (0808 8021414) Women’s Aid, the Men’s Advisory Project and The Rainbow Project.

With the help of the police, legal system and support services, you do not have to suffer in silence. With the right advice and support, you can escape an abusive relationship and move forward to a happier and healthier life.