Dealing with relationship problems

If you are having problems in your relationship, acting early and seeking counselling may help prevent it breaking down. If the relationship is definitely over, mediation can help make the split less painful and less damaging for all concerned.


A counsellor can help you discuss emotive issues and will help couples that want to save their marriage. Counsellors are professionally trained, though some offer their services voluntarily. They are trained to listen and to help you to work out your own solutions to relationship problems. They don’t negotiate for you or tell you what to do.

Family support is counselling that can help the whole family to deal with problems and prevent relationships breaking down and families splitting up.

Tackling problems early is important in order to save a relationship. The longer a problem is left unresolved, the harder it usually is to deal with it.

Counselling can also help a family to accept what is happening to them and to deal with the emotional stress that separation or divorce can cause within a family. Attempting to work things out through counselling or mediation could lead to better family decisions and long-term relationships after the divorce.

Parentline NI

Parentline NI is a free service and freephone number which provides advice, support and guidance to parents, carers and family members.  Calls to Parentline NI are answered by qualified and experienced staff.  The team is selected for having qualities that include good listening skills, empathy and commitment to putting children and families first.  Staff receive specialist training including child protection, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Parentline NI offers support on all types of family problems. These range from coping with crying babies, through to dealing with behaviour problems, bullying, drugs, the effect of separation and divorce, a child's sexuality or abuse.  You can call as many times as you need and likewise staff might agree a call back to make sure you’ve been able to progress your situation and offer further support if required.


You can negotiate directly with your partner and reach agreement without any outside help about issues such as your children’s care and splitting property and finance. That is usually the best way. You may not be able to reach agreement on everything, but it can still help to make issues easier to resolve even if you go to court.

Mediation can be used when you have decided to go ahead with a divorce, dissolution or separation by helping you to work out solutions in ways that reduce confrontation.

Couples who have separated but have not yet begun Court proceedings, are eligible for free family mediation sessions. This service is delivered by Family Mediation NI and funded by the Health and Social Care Board.

Tax credits and relationship breakdown

If you received tax credits as a couple but have now split up, and you want to make a claim as a single person, you don't need to fill in a new claim form. You can make your new claim over the phone by calling the Tax Credit Helpline.

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