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Relationship Breakdown – a mother’s story

There is such a negative thing about separated parents – that the pain will last forever, you will never be able to speak to him again, he has done this awful thing and I am pleased that is not our story. Not our children’s story.

Emma, separated mother of 3


Emma* has three girls, (14,12 & 8) and has been separated from her boyfriend for 6 years. Emma was in a psychologically abusive relationship, and still very much in love with the father of her children. Emma remembers, ‘I just needed to get away from him. It was highly emotional; I was madly in love with him still and I didn’t initially imagine what life would be like on the other side’. Her partner’s violent anger made the decision for her, ‘One morning, the kid’s dad has flown at me, he really wants to hit me and I kind of want him to hit me because that would have made the decision for me, I was crying and my little girl put her arm around me and said ‘’Mummy it’s time for you to tell Daddy to stop now, that’s it, leave you alone’.


Emma contacted solicitors, raising her concerns for her partner’s mental health and excessive drinking. Her heart was broken but she said, ‘I couldn’t live with myself as the only adult who knew how frightening he could be, I needed to do everything to be sure my children would be safe’.To reassure her fear about the children being in their father’s care, a letter was sent to her ex stating she wouldn’t allow him to look after the children until he had completed a psychiatric assessment.

Family Mediation

Before they were able to go court they were also instructed to see a mediator and Emma and her ex attended this together. As there had been abuse in their relationship special arrangements were made. Mediation can be a painful process Emma recalls how she and her ex were ‘very hurt and behaving like children themselves’. Emma needed the mediators to be the voice of her children in the room. Using mediators they avoided the expense and extreme upset of court and came to a personal agreement about their finances and how they would care for their children. Emma’s ex also agreed to see a psychiatrist and received a partial diagnosis.


Emma feels she and her ex are now in a good place, respectful of each other and able to enjoy special shared memories of their children and unite on birthdays etc. Her children now enjoy a wonderful relationship with their father, a better relationship than they could have expected if they’d stayed together. They were two unhappy people, who broke up and went their separate ways to find happiness and are better parents apart. Emma is relieved to be able to say that, ‘we have got to a more respectful place, thank God. ‘. *Emma is not her real name, we have also changed some minor identifying details to preserve Emma’s anonymity.

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