Putting children and young people first in the family courts

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The Parenting Plan

Anthony DouglasI am proud of our work with partner organisations like One Plus One to improve the materials being made freely available to separating parents to help them focus on the needs of their children. The new Parenting Plan we have developed is easily accessible via the front page of the Cafcass website. This online version helps parents as they go through the plan with advice and prompts. It is a document to be owned and used by parents as soon as possible after separation. We would like it to be available from the point of separation, as well as throughout the childhood of each child affected. To stay together as parents but not as partners is a permanent challenge as lives move on. Children and their parents need long-term support to manage this well. We have also developed a new Parenting Plan Record of Progress that can be attached to a court application form if court still becomes necessary, and can be part of the core documentation for courts. This is because a key role for the professionals involved is to return again and again to dispute resolution as the intervention of choice, however difficult the case, however late in the day it is. We are promoting the new Parenting Plans as widely as we can. They can help with all the practical arrangements needed for separated parenting and can help to keep everyone’s focus on the child’s needs and the child’s emotional timeline. A child’s emotions are often invisible or hard to hear and see. Separation is a highly charged business. Often the parent motivated to separate has been thinking about it and planning it for some time, whereas the other parent and the child or children might well be taken by complete surprise. A Parenting Plan and mediation or other dispute resolution services can help those affected move forward together, particularly helping those caught out to catch up. We are now developing other improved tools to support dispute resolution, and these will be launched with our partner organisations in the coming months.

Written by Chief Executive Anthony Douglas at 09:00

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