This blog addresses queries regarding the entitlement to benefits if a person has separated from their husband/spouse/partner. Your rights and liabilities as a divorced/separated individual will be outlined.

These benefits are given to you as an individual i.e. a separate entity. Some are also allotted to you keeping in mind your status as a single parent. The conditions and rules for each such benefit will be detailed. 

Can I get benefits if I am separated from my husband? 

Yes. You are entitled to receive a variety of benefits if you are separated from your husband. The benefits that you receive will depend on your circumstances. 

For example, the number of children you have, your working arrangements or employment situation and your income will all be taken into consideration when the benefits are granted. 

You can claim benefits as a single person soon after separation. But the separation needs to be established. 

It cannot be a temporary separation or period or an interim arrangement with the possibility of reconciliation or getting back together. In such cases, you do not qualify as single and as an individual entity. 

Prior to claiming any benefits you need to make sure that certain requirements are fulfilled and you need to ensure that you are aware of your rights and liabilities as one part of a separated couple because certain arrangements can have an impact on your receipt of benefits. 

Your Right and Liabilities after Separation 

These rights and liabilities have a bearing on the receipt of benefits. So it is essential that these issues are ironed out before benefits are claimed, to avoid any confusion or rejection of entitlements. 

Housing/Tenancy Rights 

Your home may be in either your or your ex-husband’s name or it could be held jointly. In any case, for married couples, a separation does not mean that your rights to your house are taken away. 

No matter whose name the property is registered in or the tenancy is registered in , both individuals have a right to continue to stay in the same house until they find other accommodation if they so wish. Neither partner can be removed from their home. 

But when you apply for benefits individually after you separate from your husband, it is better to move out or have your ex-husband moved out of your home, depending upon your circumstances, whose name is on the property register etc. That is a subjective decision. 

But separating residences is the better option. Because when calculating benefits, the officials often count people living in the same house as family. This can affect the benefits you receive and the amount. 

So if you decide to move to separate houses, make sure that the new billing address is updated with the relevant government departments so that you can claim your benefits free and clear as a separate individual. 

The benefits that you can receive will also vary depending upon whether you have children, the  number of children you have and the steps you are able to take to ensure that you can support them as a single parent. 

Let us take a look at some of the welfare schemes you are entitled to as a single mother/parent.

Benefits that you can claim after separating from your husband

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit has subsumed several prior benefit schemes. 

These include Income Support, income based Job-seeker’s Allowance (JSA), income based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit etc. 

If you had been claiming these benefits before your separation, then you need to inform the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Department (HMRC) about your change in circumstances. 

You will then be shifted to the Universal Credit system and you will receive the equivalent of any subsumed benefits you received before. But you can only avail what is calculated for a single person. 

The amounts and the entitlements within Universal Credit will change post the separation. 

As a single mother/parent who has separated from her/their husband and who is claiming Universal Benefits you will be categorized into four different groups depending upon your employment situation and the age of your child. 

These conditions of employment need to be fulfilled in order for you to keep receiving Universal Credit. If you don’t comply, the benefits may be revoked for a specified period of time until evidence of compliance is provided. 

For example, if you claim Universal Credit as a single parent, you have to comply with job related conditions, as illustrated in the table below: 

Your Child’s Age Employment Conditions
If your child is below the age of 1 yearThere are no work requirements you have to comply with 
If your child is one year oldYou will have to attend interviews or training to start getting ready to apply for jobs. This could mean talking with your work coach about what job options exist for someone with your skills, polishing your resume etc. 
If your child is two years old Proper preparation for employment needs to be undertaken. This could mean applying for jobs, learning new skills, actively searching for near-term employment etc. 
When you child reaches 3 years or is olderBy the time your child is three you should ideally have found work or you should be actively searching for near-term employment. You should fulfill all work related requirements. 

Once your child crosses the age of three, it is assumed that you will be working in accordance with the Claimant Commitment that you sign with your work coach at the local job center. 

Post this, the requirement is not preparation for a job, but the number of hours you work or the number of hours you spend searching for a job. This is an evaluation of how well you can financially support and meet the needs of your child.

This is illustrated in the table below: 

Your Child’s Age Number of hours working or searching for a job 
From the age of three till they start schooling (full-time, not kindergarten)You need to be working at least 16 hours a week. Or you need to be spending 16 hours a week searching for employment. 
From the time they start full-time school till the age of 13 You must be working/looking for work for at least 25 hours a week.
If they are 13 years or older You should be working 35 hours a week or spending equal time looking for a job. 

‘New-Style’ Job-seeker’s Allowance (JSA)

If you are separated from your husband and you are unemployed or you work less than 16 hours a week, you can claim the new style JSA. 

If you have been an employee for some duration during the past 2-3 years and have made sufficient National Insurance contributions or earned adequate credits for the same period of time, then you qualify for the new style JSA. 

You can claim this together with Universal Credit, subject to a ‘benefit cap’ in case you need extra assistance to meet childcare or housing costs. 

For New Style JSA, you need to prove that you are actively looking for work and provide evidence to that effect to your work coach, in accordance with your Claimant Commitment. 

If you haven’t made sufficient National Insurance contributions and therefore do not qualify for the new style JSA, then you may be able to receive the job allowance component of Universal Credit that replaced the earlier income-based JSA. 

‘New-Style’ Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you have separated from your husband and you have a disability or chronic illness that does not allow you to work or limits your ability to work to your full capacity, then you can claim the new style ESA. 

You will have to provide a General Practitioner’s assessment of your health and the nature of your disability or illness that prevents you from being able to be employed fruitfully. 

In addition, a Work Capability Assessment will be conducted to evaluate to what extent your disorder limits you in terms of employment potential. 

Once this is done, you can claim the new style ESA. But you must have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions for the past 2-3 years minimum. You could have been employed, unemployed or self-employed. 

You could have paid Class 1 or 2 contributions. You may be able to claim it along with Universal Credit, subject to certain restrictions. 

If you intend to look for work in the foreseeable future you will be placed in the ‘work-related’ activity group and you will receive a different rate compared to people who are in the support group. 

The support group comprises people who cannot resume work because of their health problems. The two groups receive differential rates. 

This blog has outlined some of the primary benefits you can receive if you are separated from your husband. Your rights and liabilities as a divorced/separated individual are outlined. 

These benefits are given to you as an individual i.e. a separate entity. Some are also allotted to you keeping in mind your status as a single parent. The conditions and rules for each such benefit have been detailed. 

If you have any comments, suggestions or queries, please feel free to contact us and leave a message. We welcome your input. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can I get benefits if I am separated from my husband? 

Can I claim Child Benefit if I am separated from my husband? 

Yes, you can claim Child Benefit as a single parent. But ideally you should be the primary caregiver i.e. the person who supports the child and with whom they reside with for the majority of their time. 

If your husband is already claiming the Child Benefit then he may continue to receive it unless your child lives with you and your husband grants you the right to claim the benefit voluntarily. Only one parent can claim the benefit. 

In addition, your personal income will decline once you separate. If your income falls under 50000 pounds, you should inform the Child Benefit office. You may get some additional concessions of some sort. 

For more information , kindly refer to – What benefits can I claim if I’m divorcing or separating? (moneyhelper.org.uk)

Will any Child Maintenance I receive affect my Child Benefits if I am separated? 

No. It won’t affect your benefits. Child Maintenance is not taken as income when calculating means-tested benefits like Universal Credit. 

But if Child Maintenance Services (CMS) or the Child Support Agency is providing any maintenance assistance, then you will have to dole out seven pounds per week for your benefit payouts to compensate for this additional support. 

Will my Universal Credit depend on my income if I separate from my husband? 

Yes. Your Universal Credit payout will depend on your income as a separate individual or single person. Your income, savings and investment will be included in the calculation. 

Amounts given will also vary on the basis of dependent children. Some Universal credit will certainly be given when you are on a low income and have savings of less than 16000 pounds. 

For more information on exact amounts, deductions and other considerations, you can read- Am I entitled to any benefits if divorcing or separating? – Rest Less

Can I claim Housing Benefit if I am separated from my husband? 

Yes. There are two ways of claiming Housing Benefit. If you leave your joint house, whether owned or rented, you can make a separate claim for housing allowances for rent and services charges in the new house you move into. 

If you and your ex-husband were already receiving Housing Benefits on your joint property or tenancy, then classifies as a change in circumstance. The local council will move both of you into the Universal Credit system. 

And you can then claim the housing allowance component of Universal Credit as a single person/separate individual. 

Can I claim Council Tax Credit if I am separated from my husband ? 

Yes. You are eligible to claim up to 25% reduction in your Council Tax bill if you apply as a single person. You can speak to your local council to assist you in claiming this reduction. 

You must not be enrolled in any academic course or scholastic program on a full-time basis. You should also be the only adult living in the house. 

For more detailed information, you are encouraged to read – Benefits and help with council tax when you separate – Citizens Advice

References :

  1. https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Action-to-take-when-a-relationship-ends.pdf
  2. What benefits can I claim if I’m divorcing or separating? (n.d.). MaPS. https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/divorce-and-separation/benefits-you-may-be-entitled-to-if-you-are-separating
  3. Department for Work and Pensions. (2016, December 6). New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance. GOV.UK; GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-jobseekers-allowance
  4. Young, K. (2021, April 13). Am I entitled to any benefits if divorcing or separating? Rest Less. https://restless.co.uk/money/divorce-and-separation/am-i-entitled-to-any-benefits-if-divorcing-or-separating/
  5. New Style Employment and Support Allowance. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance
  6. Benefits and help with council tax when you separate. (n.d.). Citizens Advice. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/sorting-out-money/benefits-and-help-with-council-tax-when-you-separate
  7. Government Digital Service. (2016, December 14). Separating or divorcing: what you need to do. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/separation-divorce
  8. Are you entitled to any benefits if you are separating? (2020, April 30). Stowe Family Law. https://www.stowefamilylaw.co.uk/blog/2020/04/30/are-you-entitled-to-any-benefits-if-you-are-separating/
  9. High income child benefit charge: issues on separation | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. (n.d.). Www.litrg.org.uk. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/tax-credits-and-benefits/child-benefit/high-income-child-benefit-charge-issues-separation
  10. Understanding couples «How do tax credits work? «Guidance «Tax Credits. (n.d.). Revenuebenefits.org.uk. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from https://revenuebenefits.org.uk/tax-credits/guidance/how-do-tax-credits-work/understanding-living-together/

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.