Parenting through a break up

OVERVIEW Here you'll find out about caring for children through a family or relationship break up. Although we mainly use the words "parents" and "parenting", we recognise that often other people are involved in caring for children too, including guardians, grandparents, and wider family and whānau. 

The information in this section may not be suitable if you are experiencing family violence. Find out more about help for family violence

The most important thing after a separation or break up is to consider the best interests of your children. A family break up is easier to cope with if everyone is working together and respecting each other.

People often sort out and agree on their own arrangements for the care for their children after a break up. These arrangements include who will care for them day to day (custody) and what contact each of you has with them (access). Working this out together is faster and less stressful for everyone, as you don’t need to go to court.

In this section:

Putting your children first

Guidance for putting your children first through a separation or break up, including tips for cooperating and coping with stressful times.

Making decisions about your children

Making decisions about your children's schools, holidays, healthcare, religion, culture, language and where they live.

Talking to your children

Tips for talking to your children about and during a break up, including when you have a new partner.

Agree on a parenting plan

Your parenting plan is the agreement between yourself and your ex-partner regarding the care and living arrangements for your children.

If you can agree on your parenting plan without involving the courts, you don't have to do anything else. If you want to, you can also apply to get your parenting plan made into a Consent Order . This means that if one person is not sticking to the agreement, you can get the court to enforce it.

Getting help for your children

You have resources and contacts to help your children through a family or relationship break up.