Your income after separation

Last updated: 07/04/2022

It is likely that your household income will decrease when you become a single parent. There may be financial support from welfare benefits and child maintenance.

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Benefits you may get after separation

When you separate from your partner you will stop getting benefits as a couple but can claim for them as a single parent.

You may get an increase in the amount of some benefits, some may stop and you may get Universal Credit for the first time. It is the benefits based on your income that will change. Benefits not based on your income like Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will not change.

Changes to benefits you are already getting

If you were already getting benefits before you separated these will now change.

If you are already getting tax credits and Housing Benefit when you separate you need to tell HMRC and the council about your change in circumstances. You will be asked to apply for Universal Credit and your tax credits and Housing Benefit will stop. You cannot choose to keep tax credits and Housing Benefit. Money for yourself, your children, help with childcare costs and rent are all included in Universal Credit.

Also tell the Council Tax Department about your change of circumstances so your Council Tax can be amended.

If you were already getting Universal Credit before you separated you need to report your change of circumstances in your online journal so your details and payments can be altered.

Benefits you can apply for

There are a number of benefits you can claim if you have a limited income.

These include:

  • new style Jobseekers Allowance
  • new style Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Council Tax discount and reduction

Which benefits you get will depend on circumstances such as the number of children you have, your savings and whether you are working or not.

For more information see: Your Benefits

Child maintenance

The parent providing the majority of the care for your children will be entitled to child maintenance from the other parent. You do not need to have been married and the parent paying child maintenance does not need to be having contact with your children. No maintenance is paid where separated parents share the care of their children equally.

Usually the best way to decide how much maintenance should be paid is for both parents to agree on an amount. Where this is difficult parents can use the Child Maintenance Service but there are charges involved.

For more information see Child maintenance arrangements.