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Help, our relationship is about to end!

In the counseling centers you can find advice and help in a time of crisis


A separation has many consequences

When the dream of family happiness bursts and the relationship goes to pieces, this is not infrequently associated with an emotional roller coaster ride. Perhaps you are wondering whether anything can still be salvaged? Or how things should continue if you draw a line and go your separate ways? Despite emotional chaos and a state of emergency, you should think through the consequences of a breakup objectively and calmly and include all important aspects in your considerations early on.

Stay or go?

Nobody separates from his or her partner so easily. This is often preceded by many arguments, heated conflicts and hurt feelings. If there is finally no chance of reconciliation or you can no longer imagine a future together with your partner, a separation is inevitable. Then it is also not a good way to hold on to the relationship because of the children. After all, a continuous quarrel between the parents may be more stressful for the children than a separation. If you have decided to separate, this means the dissolution of your cohabitation, with all the consequences for the partners, the children, the finances and the previous center of life.

What are the consequences of separation?

A separation means considerable changes and additional burdens. You should therefore not rush anything, but consider the next steps strategically. The following questions should be kept in mind:

  • The separationmust be carried out spatially. A divorce can only take place after the end of the separation year.
  • One partner may have to look for another apartment. This means rents for two apartments are to be paid and two households to be led.
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  • The household goods must be divided.
  • Everything that you have previously financed from the family income, you must now lift separately.
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  • There are arrangements for separation and child support to be made.
  • Questions about access arrangements and child custody must be clarified.
  • The finances need to be reorganized. You should review your financial situation and get an overview of the income and assets of your partner.

Do I need a lawyer?

In some circumstances, it is advisable to seek legal advice at an early stage in order to find out about social law issues in the event of a separation and divorce and to obtain competent advice. In the case of an amicable separation, it is also possible to see a lawyer together to save costs.

You can talk to a lawyer about the following topics:

  • Separation maintenance
  • Child support
  • Marriage settlement and custody
  • Pension equalization
  • Marital maintenance
  • Divorce costs and divorce process
  • Possibilities of legal aid

If you can not afford a lawyer, you get under certain conditions at the local court a counseling aid certificate in separation. Then the court cash takes over the consultation fee for your lawyer and you pay only a small contribution.


What can I live on after the separation?

If you have earned little or no money of your own due to raising children, the question arises as to how you will make ends meet financially after the separation. At best, your partner will pay alimony for you and your joint child. If no or insufficient maintenance is paid, you have the option of applying for state social benefits.

These aids are available to you - depending on your life situation:

  • Housing allowance
  • Help for living
  • Anticipated maintenance
  • Unemployment benefit I
  • Social assistance or benefits under Hartz IV (unemployment benefit II)
  • Maternity benefit
  • Parental benefit

Where can I find help and advice on separation and divorce issues?

Trusted persons from the circle of friends and family members are an important emotional support and empathetic interlocutors in a time of crisis like the separation. However, it often helps to talk about certain topics with a neutral counselor. There is a wide range of help available for people in a separation situation. In North Rhine-Westphalia, you will find many contact points to clarify your questions in emotional, legal and financial terms.

  • If there is a crisis in your marriage, you can turn to marriage, family and life counseling centers. The qualified counselors will work with you to find ways out of the crisis. Psychosocial life counseling in the separation phase is offered by many state and church agencies, for example, Caritas, Pro Familia, Diakonie or the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband. These support services are free of charge. Contact addresses can be found on the Internet or in the address book of the city.
  • In all questions concerning your minor children, the Youth Welfare Office is an important contact. In crisis situations, you are entitled to free counseling.
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  • In questions about legal, organizational and financial issues, you can contact local marriage and family counseling centers. Contact details can be found via the "Counseling Guide online" of the German Working Group for Youth and Marriage Counseling (
  • When it comes to parenting issues and accompanying your children during the separation phase, the bke-Bundeskonferenz für Erziehungsberatung e.V. shows you offers in your area via the Counseling Center Search. You can also get advice by phone or online at
  • In North Rhine-Westphalia, there is also a crisis hotline for single parents at the Association of Single Mothers and Fathers NRW at phone 0201 82774-799.
  • On the website you will find a map of offers for single parents. It shows in which places there are special offers and support groups for single parents. You can also register there for a regular newsletter.
  • If the separation throws you personally completely off track and it is difficult for you to cope with the new life cut, you have physical complaints or feel depressive moods, it is important to seek professional help in a psychological or psychotherapeutic practice. It is best to contact your primary care physician for a referral.