A child on a swing with one arm from each parent helping the child swing.

When parents are in dispute over the arrangements for their children, the Planning Together for Children course aims to help parents understand how to put their children first whilst separating.

Planning Together for Children course

Even though each parent may not be in agreement with the other, the Planning Together for Children course can help parents learn how to manage conflict and difficulties and how to put this into practice.

When an application is made to the Court to resolve the arrangements for the children, one of the options available to the Court is to direct the parents to attend the course, or a referral can be made by a CAFCASS Family Court Advisor. The Planning Together for Children Course has effectively replaced the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) that the court would previously direct parents to complete. Whereas the SPIP would take place as a one-off four hour course, the Planning Together for Children course contains three stages to what is a hybrid model:

  • a set of self-directed e-learning modules that focus on topics such as 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 where parents will be encouraged to discuss, think about and extend their learning from the e-learning modules; and
  • a supplementary online parenting plan to help parents to make agreements about important parts of their co-parenting relationship and the arrangements for their children, where this is safe for the children and adults. Parents will be encouraged to share an understandable version of the plan with their child/ren.

The course combines e-learning, group work and online support for parents who are involved in Private Law family court proceedings. Encouragement is offered to parents on how to communicate and work together, to try to agree parenting arrangements without the need for further court hearings. The course is designed to improve parents’ understanding of the impact of conflict upon children and the effect on their wellbeing and development. It is aimed to be an enhanced and improved service replacing the SPIP, and CAFCASS offers further guidance for parents and carers about the course and process on its website: Help in Planning Together for Children | Cafcass, and has published a news announcement recently given further commentary on the course: Cafcass launches Planning Together for Children on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to help parents | Cafcass.

If you are unsure about the arrangements for your separated family and need any help or advice, please do get in touch with our Family Law team.