When a Relationship Ends

Not all relationship disputes end in separation or divorce. Some couples avail of marriage counselling or conflict coaching to help them resolve their disputes. However, where your relationship has broken down irretrievably, the following information may be of assistance.

If your relationship has ended, there are many things to consider. Maintaining communication at this early stage will improve decision-making for the family. Immediate issues that may require practical consideration include financial, living and parenting arrangements. Where possible new routines and arrangements should be established to allow everyone affected to get used to the new circumstances. Decisions which have the best outcome for the family as a whole are of course preferable to those that might serve as a means to express the pain you feel from the ending of your relationship.

Relationship breakdown undoubtedly has an impact on children. Children feel the loss and grief of a breakup often without the capacity to understand the complexities of the adult relationship; children will feel insecure, uncertain, and vulnerable when their parents’ relationship ends. The most important thing you can do for your children during this time is to ensure that your interaction and communication with the other parent is civil and respectful and that your children do not experience any conflict (vocal or silent). This may feel like a difficult or impossible task but the effort you put in during this time will directly influence how well your children cope with the separation. You may find it beneficial to talk to a professional to help you through this stage.

First Steps

If you have decided to separate, there are a number of options available to help address the issues arising on separation or divorce. Issues such as the care of the children, the family home, financial arrangements, and property need to be discussed and ideally agreed by both parties. However, the emotional side of the separation also needs to be managed. You need to ensure that you have support in place to help you through this time. Family and friends are a great source of support but you may also benefit from professional counselling during this time. Participation in independent counselling, either individually or as a couple, tends to facilitate more clarity and progress in the breakdown and resolution process.


This short publication from One Family deals with the initial feelings you might experience when a relationship ends, how to sort out the practicalities of the relationship breakdown, and how to deal with children and extended family members. Helpful phone numbers are included.

This comprehensive booklet provides information on family mediation – who is it for and how does it work, children and parenting in the separation process, and managing the financial issues at separation or divorce. It also includes information on how to cope with grief and loss at the end of a marriage/relationship, children’s reactions to separation and divorce, and managing the stress of separation or divorce.


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