Separation in a family with children

Going through a separation is often complicated, and you may feel unsure about what to do next. It is a good idea to seek outside professional help at some point during your separation.
Photo: Mari Huhtanen

Professional help is available to you when you are trying to decide whether or not to separate

When you are faced with difficulties in a relationship, it is common to take your time to decide whether to separate or continue living with your partner. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts, as help is available.

Couples therapy can give you and your partner tools to work on your relationship. The family counselling clinic is there for your children and the whole family. You can also discuss your situation in family mediation or with child welfare supervisors.

If you decide to separate, you and the other parent can seek one-on-one discussion support and counselling from social guidance. You can reach us on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12.00–13.00.


Call +358 310 39028(Link starts a phone call)

Matters concerning your children to be agreed upon when you separate 

Separation is a significant life change for everyone in the family, and you and your family members may need different kinds of support and help. For example, in matters concerning your children, professional help is available from child welfare supervisors and family mediators. 

Support is also available from various organisations, such as the family counselling services of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Väestöliitto, the Family Federation of Finland, as well as mental health services and occupational health care. 

  1. How will the child’s custody be organised after separation?

  2. Where will the child live? 

  3. How will the child’s meetings with the parent living elsewhere be arranged? 

  4. How will the child’s maintenance be provided? 

We have collected answers to questions concerning children’s custody, living arrangements, visitation and maintenance on the family law matters’ frequently asked questions page. 

The FAQ page is available here

You can settle your child’s affairs on your own without making any legal agreements. However, you should keep in mind that non-formal agreements are not enforceable contracts as such and, for example, Kela requires an official agreement to pay you child maintenance allowance. 

If you want to confirm your agreements regarding your child’s affairs officially, make an appointment with a child welfare supervisor. 

Child welfare supervisors’ contact information is available here

If you and the other parent cannot agree on your child’s affairs amongst yourselves, seek legal assistance. Legal assistance is available through the Legal Aid Office if you or the other parent is of limited means. If not, you will need professional assistance from a private legal counsellor. If your situation cannot be resolved with legal help, you may seek a solution through court mediation. 

Discuss the matters to be agreed upon concerning your child together with the other parent in advance. You can use the parenting plan available on the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health website as a guide.  

Tutustu vanhemmuussuunnitelmaan(Link leads to external service)

On hyvä, jos voitte asioida yhdessä perheasioiden sovittelijan luona ennen lastenvalvojalle hakeutumista. Perheasioiden sovittelussa saatte maksutta ohjausta ja neuvontaa lasten huoltoon ja tapaamisoikeuteen liittyvien ristiriitojen ratkaisemiseksi. 

 The parenting plan is available here

You might find MLL’s animated series ‘Family Separation’ useful. The videos are available in Finnish, English, Russian, Arabic and Somali. 

Watch the videos here(Link leads to external service)

Once you have reached an agreement with the other parent, the child welfare supervisor will prepare an enforceable contract on the agreed matters. As a rule, both parents need to be present at this meeting.  

The child welfare supervisor can only confirm the unanimous agreements of parents.    

You can find the contact information for child welfare supervisors here

Photo: Mari Huhtanen

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