Each month, our advisers answer your questions. See what questions were asked in December, and what advice we gave.

Suleiman – contact arrangements

I am single parent with a child and at the moment. I am working. 31 hrs A week… Company offer me 25 hrs work Am i better of 31 hrs or 25 hrs a week House rent 134 +council tax

Our advice

Dear Suleiman,

Sorry, we don’t have enough information to advise whether you‘d be better off changing your hours of work. In order to do this we’d need to know your income. You may find our information on benefits if you’re working useful to look at so you know what information we’d need from you. You can then call our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 to speak to an adviser for a benefit calculation.

Livia – benefits

good morning, I would like an advise regards the benefits.. my and husband are currently going through divorce. I reside in a property which has been purchased during the marriage and it’s a question of divorce. my name is not on the mortgage, but it’s on land registry,however I still pay rent or mortgage into my husbands account, from which he pays the mortgage. My husband lives abroad. I am currently not working therefore I have no income at all. i would like to ask if I am in title to any benefit, or do I need to move out from the house? Is just I do not have any income at all at the moment… Also he lives and works abroad. AM in title of any child maintenance during the divorce process? also am I in title to free childcare?

Our advice

Hi Livia,

The benefits you can claim will depend on things like, how old your child or children are, and whether you have savings. We’d need more information before we can advise you on what you’re entitled to. You can speak to an adviser on our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 for a benefit check.  Alternatively you can check your benefit entitlement using this online calculator.  You can also find information about benefits on our website here

You may be able to apply for a court order for child maintenance that can be enforced in the country where your husband lives. This is called a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO). The country your husband lives in must be a member of the REMO scheme. You can find more information here.
You may be entitled to free childcare if you have a child aged 2, 3 or 4. There is also help with childcare costs in certain circumstances, such as if you start working or studying. You can find more information here.

Hopefully this information, and calling our helpline for a benefit check, will help you to work out whether you can afford to stay in the family home. You can also find information about housing options on our website here.

Lisa – debt

I separated from my husband 17 months ago, we sold the house and split the proceeds and bought separate houses. I have just closed the last joint bank account. My husband has over £20,000 in credit card debit in his name and of his making. can his creditors come after my house to clear his debits, even though it is in my name.

Our advice

Hi Lisa

You shouldn’t be liable for your husband’s credit card debts if you haven’t entered into an agreement to pay them.

However, we aren’t specialists in money advice.  For more information, you can ring the Money Advice Service on 0800 138 7777Or the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000

Chantelle – contact

Hello, i split 5 months ago with my partner after being verbally abused for years and finally he got me on holiday in front of my children. He sees the children once week is abuaoce Every time he collects them or drops them off and does not have set day ams rime as to when he has them and i can never make plans when he has the children. He also worls and pays np maimtenace for them. I have had to give my job up since he left there’s no1 to have the children when i have to leave at 7am for work. He pays me no money for his children either. I really want a set day town of collection and time of drop off in place that he has to adhere to how can o go about this? Thank you

Our advice

Hi Chantelle,

It’s usually in the children’s best interests if there’s a clear arrangement in place for them to spend time with each parent.  If you find it difficult to reach an agreement about arrangements for your children you could try mediation. A trained mediator can help you and your children’s father to try and reach an agreement which is in the best interests of the children. You can find more information about mediation and help when you can’t agree here.

Mediation isn’t suitable for everyone If you’ve been in a violent or abusive relationship mediation may not be appropriate for you.  If you can’t reach an agreement either together or through mediation you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This is an order which sets out when a child sees the other parent and how that contact should happen. A child arrangements order is binding on both parents. You can find more about child arrangements orders on the Rights of Women website. If you’re considering applying for a child arrangements order you should get legal advice. The Family Law Panel is a free directory service where you can find solicitors who offer a free initial advice session. There are other free legal resources listed on our Getting Legal Help factsheet.

All parents have a responsibility to support their child financially. There are different ways to make arrangements for child maintenance and you can choose which best suits your circumstances. If you’re unable to agree about child maintenance you can apply to the Child Maintenance Service. They’ll get details of the income of your children’s dad from HMRC, and he’ll be expected to pay a percentage of his income to you in child maintenance. There is a £20 application fee but if you’ve experienced domestic violence you don’t have to pay this. You can find information about using the Child Maintenance Service here.

Wafiyah  – accommodation

Hi I need some help right now I had to leave my in laws house with my nearly 8 month old baby as there was a huge confrontation and my son also witnessed it too. I’ve had to grab what I could and go to my aunts for some nights but even she cannot keep me that long. Therefore my doctors and other facilities are there. I don’t know what to do and I know I won’t be able to go back there is too much problems and conflicts in the house. My partner is not willing to come with me so I’ve had to go with my son alone. Please could you advise me what to do, I work in a private nursery and i supposed to be going back in February I’ve also been put down on a waiting list for a tonsillectomy to get my tonsils removed. I cannot deal with the stress especially that I also need to go for an operation. I need help and I don’t know what to do please help me thank you

Our advice

Hi Wafiyah,

It sounds like you’re having a very difficult time at the moment. The safety of you and your child is the most important thing. If you need advice because you’ve left due to the behaviour of your partner’s family you can contact the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Free phone Helpline on 0808 2000 247.  They can advise you on emergency refuge accommodation and check  if there are any support services in your area.

You may find it difficult to find suitable accommodation in the area you want to live, particularly if you need to move urgently. The Rights of Women guide on domestic violence, housing and homelessness contains information about your housing options. You may be able to make a homeless application to your local council on the grounds it’s not safe for you to remain in your home and they’ll provide you with emergency accommodation while they look into your application. This accommodation must be suitable for you but in some areas there’s a shortage of emergency accommodation and your local council may use emergency accommodation outside of the area. You should explain your needs to the council. If you’re offered emergency accommodation that you feel is unsuitable you can get expert housing advice from Shelter Helpline on 0808 800 4444

There may be rent deposit schemes, rent guarantee and bond schemes available in your area to help you secure private rented property. You can use the Crisis Private Rented Sector directory to see if there are any schemes in your area or contact the housing options team in your local council who can offer help and support in finding accommodation.

If you and you partner are separating there may be financial help available to you as a single parent. In addition to your maternity pay and child benefit you may be entitled to tax credits, and if you rent a property you can claim housing benefit. Depending on where you live you may be entitled to a new benefit called universal credit instead. You may also get help with council tax.  The amount you can get will depend on your income. You can call our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 to speak to an adviser for a calculation.

Meredith – separation

husband keeps on cheating on me – been doing this for years; I need the way out somehow

Our advice

Hi Meredith

It sounds like it’s been a very difficult time for you.  Relate have some support and guidance on their website to help with the transition period when you’re first separating. There’s also some information to help with the steps you can take after separation on our Gingerbread separating pageincluding resources about arranging housing and  making arrangements for your children.

You can ring our free helpline on 0808 802 0925 if you’d like to speak to an adviser to talk through your situation and get more advice about your finances, housing and arrangements for the children.