Benefits post-divorce: what you need to know

When you physically separate and go to living in a one adult household, it’s helpful to maximise any benefits post-divorce that you might be entitled to and take advantage of any additional help that is out there. It can be daunting when you think about splitting one household into two, but with forward thinking, you can make this transition easier.

First things first, if you already receive tax credits, you need to let the HM Revenue and Customs know as soon as possible that you are now single. You can do this online or by post, full details of how to do this are on the government’s website.

Council Tax

Most people don’t know that If you live alone when you separate (i.e. you’re the only adult), you can apply for a single person discount which is 25% off your Council Tax bill. Every little saving helps so do the admin and get the discounts you’re entitled to. To apply for this discount, go to the government website.

Child benefits

If you are responsible for any children under the age of 16 or any children under 20 who are still in full-time education (A-levels, higher education, undertaking an ‘approved’ training course or an equivalent of the previous) then you can claim child benefit.

Only one parent can receive the child benefit so if your ex was the person receiving these benefits, your ex will need to contact the Child Benefit Office and let them know they no longer need this benefit. You’ll then have to wait until this change is processed to set yourself up as the new claimant.

Main benefits

You can really supplement your income with benefits.  The main ones are income support, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit.   Universal credit is replacing these benefits, and this is currently being rolled out over the UK.

What benefits you will get will depend on where you live.  Whilst this transition of benefits is ongoing the best thing to do is to go to your local CAB or job center and they will be able to let you know which application to make. As a starting point and to see how much you may be entitled to, the charity Gingerbread has a useful summary of benefits.

Schools

It is worth making inquiries at your child’s school to see if they offer any extra help.   You may get help with school dinners, free after-school clubs and help with school trips.  This can all add up so can be very helpful when you are managing your finances.

Hopefully, this blog will save you and your family some money and help to set you up in your new life. As always, if you’d like support and advice on divorce and separation, please get in touch.

Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes the legalities around divorce and separation.

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