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Family and relationship problems

The majority of people will experience some problems or issues within their family at some point during their life. Ill health, disability and retirement can all bring their own worries and concerns. This section contains information on a range of family problems along with details of organisations that may be able to offer you advice and support.


Abuse can happen to anyone and it can take many different forms. Financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse (also referred to as domestic violence), and neglect are all ways in which a person can suffer in an abusive relationship. The abuse may take place within the family, or it may be a carer, friend, or anyone else who comes into contact with you and your family.

If you are worried about someone who may be suffering abuse, or if you are experiencing this yourself, there are people who can help you. See our sections on Adult abuse and Personal safety for details of where you can go for help and advice.


If you or someone in your family suffers from an addiction it can be an extremely difficult situation to live with. Alcohol or drug dependency, or an addiction to gambling, can cause huge problems for everyone involved. Finances, health and relationships may all suffer as a result of the addiction. There are many organisations that can help if you, a family member or a friend is affected by any of these issues.


Bereavement is something which happens to almost everyone at some stage in their lives. The death of someone close to you, whether it was expected or sudden, can be an extremely difficult time, and you will experience many different emotions. If your partner dies you may find that even after the initial grieving process you are still finding it difficult to cope with things such as living on your own and dealing with finances. Our section on  may help you through the stages of your loss.

If your bereavement has left you feeling lonely or isolated, the following sections on this website may give you some ideas about ways in which to meet new people and make good use of your time:

A bereavement may lead to disputes in some families around issues such as inheritance. You may find it useful to read our section on Wills for details of where to get advice.


Debt can be a problem at any age, but you may find that as you get older you struggle to manage on the income that you have. There are many factors that can lead to debt problems, including retirement, illness, disability, divorce and bereavement. Inadequate pension provision can also lead some older people to use credit for essential household goods, resulting in debts with high interest repayments.

If you or a member of your family are affected by debt problems, there are organisations that can offer help and support.


If you, your partner, or another family member suffer from a significant health problem, this can have a major impact on your relationship. A physical disability or mental health problem such as depression or anxiety can be extremely distressing and demanding if they affect someone you love. If you are suffering from a health problem yourself, you may be finding it difficult to cope and need to rely on your family to help you. See our Health section for information about various health issues and where you can go for advice.

Looking After Someone

Looking after someone can be very stressful, and even more so as you get older. It may be that you have always cared for a disabled family member, or it could be that you have only taken on a caring role more recently. Ill health or disability may mean that your partner or parent now requires physical care or supervision. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are common health problems in later life and can be especially difficult to cope with.


Children North East are running a new programme, called Today’s Teens Tomorrow’s Teens which will empower families to communicate effectively and to have healthy relationships with one another.  Delivered by experts in the field of family support, schools have found that this intervention improves school attendance, behaviour and emotional wellbeing.


Retirement can be an exciting new phase in your life, especially if you are in good health and financially secure. Age UK’s guide Planning your retirement: money and tax may be helpful in giving advice about your finances.

You may find that you feel socially isolated now that you no longer have work colleagues to talk to during the day and your week has less structure. This can put a strain on relationships. Our section on Leisure has lots of ideas on how to fill your new-found leisure time.

Getting help


Family mediation is a way of resolving disputes after separation or divorce. In mediation, couples are helped to look for their own solutions to their disputes. Family mediation is also increasingly being used to solve other types of family problems, such as:

  • disputes between a parent and child
  • disagreements over care for elderly or seriously ill relatives
  • grandparents contact with grandchildren
  • homelessness caused by family arguments

Both parties explain their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator. The mediator is impartial, which means that they are not on anyone’s side. They are there to help both parties, unlike a solicitor who only works for one party in each case. Sometimes the mediator will suggest a way of solving a problem to help to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties, but they will never tell either party what to do.

The mediator can give information about law but cannot give anyone advice about what to do. You should go to see a solicitor if you need legal advice. The solicitor can help you before, in between sessions and when agreement has been reached, so that you know that whatever has been agreed is fair to you.

To find a Family Mediation Service near you, visit the Family Mediation Council website.

Other Useful Support

Patient Information Centre has a range of easy to read mental health self help guides available to download for free. You can also find local mental health services on their website.

Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health and learning disability services across Newcastle.

West End Women and Girls Centre provides domestic abuse services which supports victims of domestic violence, honour based violence and forced marriage.

The Muslim Initiative is a community association based in Newcastle upon Tyne who offer marriage and family guidance counselling.

North East Law Centre is a not for profit legal practice that offers free family law advice to Newcastle residents.

Northumbria University Student Law Office – offer free legal advice to Newcastle residents.

Advicenow produce guides that are easy-to-read and practical. They explain what you need to know, where you need to go, and what you need to do to solve your problem.

Families Need Fathers is a charity that supports dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation. They offer information, advice and support services helping parents to achieve a positive outcome for their children.

Ageing Well Without Children AWWOC raises awareness and understanding of the issues affecting people ageing without children.

Stand Alone provides support for those affected by family estrangement. If you would like information and advice about family estrangement, they have a range of online guides to help with different situations.

Other Useful Information

Last updated: November 18, 2021