When parents separate, there is a real risk that parental conflict could negatively affect their child’s wellbeing, even more so when there are lengthy family court proceedings. The court is aware of this and has been looking at ways to encourage positive communications between parents that put the child’s wellbeing at the forefront.
The old course – Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP)
Parents who have been in court proceedings in relation to child arrangements may have heard of the government programme called Separated Parents Information Programme (more commonly known as the SPIP course). Figures show that approximately 24,000 parents a year were referred to the course by the family court or the courts advisory service, CAFCASS. The SPIP course was a 4 hour course that intended to help parents manage the impact of parental conflict on their children.
The new course – Planning Together for Children
As of 3 April 2023 the MoJ has launched a new course which replaces SPIP’s. The Planning Together for Children course combines e-learning, group work and online support for parents involved in private law family court proceedings. The new programme aims to reduce the time families spend in family court proceedings and to lower the number of families returning to court.
There are three stages to Planning Together for Children:
- e-learning modules focusing on what happens if parents go to court, understanding and managing emotion, and looking at things from a child’s point of view;
- a group workshop covering topics such as understanding the impact of conflict on children and communicating in positive ways with each other; and
- a supplementary online parenting plan – to help parents to make agreements about co-parenting and the arrangements for their children. Parents will be encouraged to share the plan with their child.
The online parenting plan is freely available on the Cafcass website. Although not legally binding, a parenting plan can be a great reference tool. Parents may also consider use of parenting apps such as OurFamilyWizard | The Best Coparenting App .
If you are going through a separation or need advice in relation to arrangements for your children, then please contact one of our family law specialists here.