What should you do first?
The first step after you and your spouse/partner have decided to end your relationship is to try and come to an amicable agreement about the care and welfare of your children, together with the financial support that is to be provided. There are 2 main government bodies who can also help you plan a way forward:Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) provides a parenting plan which gives superb advice on the types of things you need to discuss and agree upon together.The Child Maintenance Service provides help on reaching a family-based arrangement for child maintenance payments and has a calculator for ascertaining what those payments should be. They can also arrange for payment collection and enforcement of payments.
If you can come to an agreement together, there will be no need to speak to a mediator, solicitor, or apply for any court orders, which will ultimately be the least stressful and most cost effective solution. However, one thing to keep in mind, is that this agreement will not be “enforceable”, which means if at some point in the future you disagree on the arrangements, you cannot ask the courts to make them happen, you would have to apply for a court order. It is always sensible as well, to get some initial legal advice, so you understand your rights and those of your children as this will be of great benefit, when deciding on child arrangements.