Programme designed by TR helps divorcing parents put children first

Published in Blog by Andrew Balfour on March 12th 2024

TR’s CEO, Andrew Balfour, is proud of the charity’s role in helping separating parents resolve disputes about their children rather than battle it out through the Family Court.

Last year we were asked to design a programme for Cafcass which is the independent agency that advises the family courts about what is safe for children and in their best interests. The aim was to help parents and families understand the damaging impact parental conflict has on children, and to help them focus on putting children first when deciding parenting responsibilities - without the need to go to court. The materials include eight online modules and one group session, while our partner (Axis12) developed an online parenting plan.

... 89% of parents completing the course say they have a clearer understanding of the impact of conflict on their children ...

New Government data shows that this ‘Planning Together for Children’ resource is having a positive impact. According to a report published in January 2024, 89% of parents completing the course say they have a clearer understanding of the impact of conflict on their children and 86% report being highly satisfied with the course content and the support that it provides. These statistics are based on almost 13,000 referrals to date.

Due to the success of the programme, the Government is now working to ensure that more families complete the programme earlier in the separation process, rather than following a court order, as is currently often the case.

We know that prolonged conflict between separating parents is harmful to children’s wellbeing and life chances with research showing that exposure to inter-parental conflict is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression, aggression, hostility, anti-social behaviour/criminality, reduced academic performance and substance misuse.

Attempting to settle issues around parental responsibility through the courts often leads to lengthy conflict between parents, leaving their children experiencing significant periods without suitable arrangements in place.

Data on the usage and effectiveness of the programme is very encouraging, and I am hopeful that these resources will help more families resolve private disputes without having to resort to the family courts.

For more information

Read the Government Report. 

Find more information about the Cafcass ‘Planning Together for Children’ programme here

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