Becoming a single dad after the death of your partner can be a devastating and overwhelming experience for you and your children. As well as coping with your grief, there will be practical considerations and arrangements to make.
Support exists to help you and your children through this difficult time and you shouldn’t feel that you have to struggle alone.
Looking after yourself
With running the household and taking care of your children, you may feel there’s no time to deal with your own emotions or look after yourself. Though it can be hard to open up, try to talk to family and friends about how you and the kids are coping, and don’t be afraid to ask for help so you can have a break. It can be difficult for those close to you to know how best to be there for you and they may be worried you’ll think they’re interfering.
Taking some time to look after yourself will benefit both you and the children.
If you need a little extra support or prefer to talk to someone outside of your family and friends, there are lots of organisations that can provide a listening ear, advice or friendship i.e Cruse Bereavement Care
When your spouse or partner dies, you have a legal right to take reasonable time off work to make funeral arrangements, as well as to attend the funeral. You should not be penalised by your employer for taking this time off.
The right to take time off is restricted to the time needed to make practical arrangements and deal with any administration. What is reasonable will depend on individual circumstances, but is usually a few days. Your employer does not have to pay you for the time you are off work.
Being with your children after the death of their other parent will of course be top on your list of priorities. Talk to your employer to see if they offer extra time off as part of your contract. This additional time is often called compassionate leave and may be paid.
There is no legal right to compassionate leave, and if your employer doesn’t offer it you could ask for paid annual leave or consider taking sick leave if you are not fit to return to work.
Taking time off work with a baby after bereavement
If your child is under the age of one and their mother has died, you may be able to take up to 52 weeks’ additional paternity leave. To take additional paternity leave you must provide the majority of the day to day care for your child. The leave must be taken before your child’s first birthday.
If your partner would have been on maternity leave and was entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, you may be able to get paternity pay for 39 weeks of the additional paternity leave. Paternity pay is £135.45 a week or 90 per cent of your weekly earnings, whichever is less. If you do not qualify for paternity pay, you can still take additional unpaid paternity leave.
Claiming benefits and tax credits after bereavement
Becoming a single parent may mean that you are entitled to claim more benefits and tax credits for your family, or make a claim for the first time. Extra financial help may be available even if you are working, have your own home or have never claimed before. To find out more about the benefits available for single parents, click on the money and work tab on the left and go to the benefits, tax credits and managing money page.
Benefits and tax credits may seem confusing but don’t let this put you off claiming the money your family is entitled to. As well as benefits for single parents, you may be entitled to extra money as a bereaved parent if you were married or in a civil partnership. Find out more.
If you were claiming benefits or tax credits as a couple with your partner or already claim any benefits, make sure you tell the agencies that pay them as soon as possible about your change in circumstances as your entitlements may have changed.