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Cafcass develops ‘new, improved’ Parenting Plan to support co-operative parenting

Interactive plan intended to avoid courtroom battles

Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service, has developed a new and improved Parenting Plan, an interactive tool to help parents (and other family members) following separation to parent co-operatively. The plan is intended to support parents towards making practical decisions about parenting and resolving disputes in a way that retains focus on their child. Child safety and security is central to the revised plan which looks to halt the escalation of disagreements and potential courtroom battles.

The plan covers practical issues of parenting, such as; living arrangements, finances, holidays and sporting activities, health and emotional care, and can help to clarify the arrangements needed to put in place. It also contains strategies for improved communication after separation. It differs from other mediation tools in that it can be completed individually or with both parents working through the plan together, and is now also available as an interactive tool – accessible online (a Word version is also available). Its adaptability and accessibility means it can develop with the child and as circumstances change.

Anthony Douglas, Cafcass Chief Executive, said:

"Resolving a dispute about the arrangements for your child after separation, when emotions are running high, can be hard to do, which is why Cafcass, working with our partners, has developed the Parenting Plan." "It builds on the previous version, which has been incredibly popular with mediators and solicitors, and is intended to help any parent, whatever their situation, develop better communications skills, to improve understanding of their child's needs and equip parents to build a sustainable and adaptable plan."

The Parenting Plan is as an extremely useful tool which, Cafcass says, is widely recognised within the courts as a valuable method of resolution. The new version complements the current suite of out of court services which aim to divert cases from reaching the court where safe to do so – as outlined in the Family Justice Review. Its completion is likely to be expected, should parents find themselves in court over child arrangements, and aligns with the new legislation outlined in the forthcoming Children and Families Bill which recently received Royal Assent and will be enacted next month. Parenting Plans are referenced in the proposed Child Arrangements Programme.

For more details of the plan, please click here.