In England and Wales a Parenting Plan is a written document that parents can negotiate and work out together. The plan is to help regulate and clarify the arrangements for your child’s care following separation. It can include a wide range of practical parenting issues such as:
- The child’s living arrangements
- The child’s contact time with each parent
- Who the child spends time with during the holidays
- Schooling, education and medical care
The aim of the plan is to put the welfare and best interests of the children first. By having a plan that sets out pre-agreed arrangements, children are given stability and an established routine, rather than uncertainty and being subject to ongoing disputes between the parents.
Benefits of having a Parenting Plan include:
- It will help parents and children to know what’s expected of them
- It’s a valuable reference document to refer back to if a dispute occurs
- In Court proceedings, it can be used as a starting point to evidence to the Court previous arrangements that were agreed and adhered to in the past.
Separated Parents Information Plan
A Separated Parents Information Plan (SPIP) is designed to help parents understand how to put their children first while they are separating, even when there are disputes with the other parent. The SPIP course is to help parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage these conflicts and difficulties.
It’s important to note that ex-partners don’t attend the same SPIP session. Further, if child proceedings do get issued at Court, then there’s a high possibility that a Judge will direct parents to attend a SPIP course in any event.
Mediation is not relationship counselling, but a method of helping people reach an agreement on disputed issues. Mediation will aim to help parents agree on the details of how you’ll look after your children, such as where they’ll live and when they spend time with each parent.
A mediator can help you reach an agreement on child arrangements without taking sides as they are a neutral, independent third party. The mediator can help keep discussions on track, which is important given the tricky issues that will need to be grappled with.
It may take more than one session of mediation to cover all of the issues. However, the hope is that contact disputes can be resolved without the need for Court proceedings.
A further option, before issuing Court proceedings, is for parents to have their legal representatives (Solicitors/Lawyers) negotiate on their behalf. Often, direct lines of communication between parents have broken down and so become completely ineffective or cause more issues.
By contrast, having a Family and Child Law Solicitor negotiate on your behalf can quite often remove the heat and anger out of the situation. It also provides an open channel of communication where the dispute can hopefully be resolved and a deal facilitated between the parents.