Cafcass Parenting Plan and Family Court Advisory Support Service. They have created a new and improved Parenting plan, which can be used to assist parents and other family members after separation.
Cafcass says the plan helps parents make practical parenting decisions and resolve disputes while keeping their child in mind. The revised plan focuses on child safety and security. It aims to stop the negative effects of courtroom battles and escalated disagreements.
It addresses practical parenting issues such as living arrangements, finances and holidays, as well as health and emotional care. The plan also includes strategies to improve communication following separation. This tool is different from other mediation tools because it can be used individually or with both parents. It is also accessible online as an interactive tool (a Word version is available below). Its flexibility and accessibility allow it to grow with the child as their circumstances change.
Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass, stated:
It can be difficult to resolve a dispute over the arrangements for your child’s future after separation. This is why Cafcass has created the Parenting Plan with our partners.
This version builds upon the popular previous version. It is designed to help parents, regardless of their circumstances, improve Cafcass Parenting Plan their communication skills, understand their child’s needs, and create a plan that can be sustained and adapted.
The Parenting Plan is a very useful tool that courts recognize as a valuable way to resolve disputes. This new version is in addition to the existing suite of out-of-court services that aim to divert cases away from the courts where it is safe, as described in the Family Justice Review. If parents are involved in child arrangements court proceedings, completion of the project is possible. It aligns with the Children and Families Bill, which has recently received Royal Assent and will become law next month. The proposed Child Arrangements Programme includes references to Parenting Plans.
Edward Timpson MP (Minister for Children and Families and ex-Family Law specialist) said:
“Wherever possible, the government Cafcass Parenting Plan wants to help parents resolve child custody disputes in a positive manner, without resorting to the courts. This new plan is an important step in providing parents with the guidance and support they need.
Over the years, the Department for Education and Cafcass have worked together to develop policy terms around parenting plans. This was to emphasize the importance of Government helping parents to resolve disputes outside of court. This partnership has produced a wonderful outcome, allowing parents to concentrate on their child’s needs.
Cafcass Parenting Plan sponsorship will be transferred from 1 April 2014 to the Ministry of Justice
Simon Hughes MP, Family Justice Minister, stated:
We want people to divorce in a way that is least harmful for all involved. This includes avoiding court battles and choosing other options when possible. Cafcass Parenting Plans is another important tool to help make that happen.
We also amended the law to require that separated couples consider mediation instead of going to court.
Cafcass offers more information about the Parenting Plan as well as other useful tools on its website.
Cafcass Parenting Plan Coparenting Hub
Cafcass launched its “Co-parenting Hub”, a free online resource that brings together articles, programmes, and tools for separated parents, following successful pilot programs.
Full disclosure: I am not a parent or a separated parent. However, I signed up to give the hub a try and see what it has to offer our clients. The following is basically a review of the Cafcass Coparenting Hub.
To be honest, I was expecting to be disappointed. Although I was expecting the Hub to be slow, clumsy, or overpriced and would put off clients from using it for any reason whatsoever it is actually quite good. It can be a little Cafcass Parenting Plan odd at times, like when you rate your progress on your goals by clicking on different faces and expressing different emotions. But these features make it stand out from the other dull, functional public service websites we’re used to.
Cafcass and OnePlusOne created the Hub. It brings together all resources family lawyers are familiar with in one place. The Hub allows parents to access information about the Separated Parent Information Programme, the “Getting It Right for Children” Programme and create parenting plans. Parents can also set their own parenting goals and track their progress, just as they did above.
Although the information regarding the Separated Parents Information Program is quite comprehensive, it’s not possible to send parents to the program without a court order. It is a great place to point a nervous parent to though, as it answers many frequently asked questions like “Will my ex be there?”
How to Get It Right
The Getting It Right for Children program is about communication between divorced parents in order to improve their parenting relationships, and primarily improve the experience of co-parenting for the child. An introduction, three interactive activities and a bonus activity are included. The final article is the completion. Parents are required to view videos and consider the views of their children in order to make informed decisions. It was a bit more complicated than I had expected, so I didn’t complete the programme. This section of the Hub felt the most patronizing. The brightly-colored cover page with activity links looks like something from BBC Bitesize. However, the activities are thoughtful and challenging, but not too difficult to follow.
It is also possible to use the Interactive Parenting Plan. This agreement is easily separated into sections such as “education” or “money and children”. The plan can be edited by the individual, with the exception of a few prompts. A parent can propose a part of the plan, and then “commit” it to it. This sends the suggestion to the other parent who can either edit it or accept it. The parents are required to agree to the agreed portion of the plan within 24 hours. This prevents any further editing. Parents should also consider the consequences of changing it. This is in line with the principles of the Getting It Right program, which emphasizes taking the time to consider decisions and making them peacefully.