The Parenting Apart Programme Conflict Workshop

The Parenting Apart Programme are offering a workshop to enhance your skills and knowledge when working with parental conflict. They also have two other workshops to help professionals with identifying safeguarding in divorce and Child Development.

Why we offering these workshops

Claire Field the author of the Parenting Apart has been part of The Family Solutions Group which is the sub-group of the Private Law Working Group. It is a multi-disciplinary group who have been tasked with bringing fresh and focused attention to improving the experiences of separating families away from the Family Court where it is safe to do so.

In the latest financial year ending 2020 it is estimated that there were 2.4 million separated families in Great Britain including 3.6 million children in separated families (Separated families statistics: April 2014 to March 2020 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Every year, around 280,000 children see their parents separate in the UK. How those separations are handled will affect the rest of their lives. The current system is failing many children and their parents, and this affects society as a whole. The ‘Family Justice System’ is in crisis. This is no exaggeration. The numbers of parents making applications are unmanageable and family courts are stretched beyond limits, with the numbers of applications. The system is recognised as broken and in need of radical reform.

The Family Justice Reform Implementation Group were tasked with formulating proposals for an overhaul of the system. However, this will take time. In the interim, the Family Solutions Group were asked to consider what can be done now to improve the current system for parents and children?

The report highlights there is already a system in place to take advantage of child-focussed legislation, rules and professional duties, however this is widely not understood or applied. The recommendations are essentially about communication (nationally, locally, and professionally) to move away from a ‘justice’ response to parental disagreement and make child welfare the central and overriding factor.

The report highlights that when parents separate, they often turn to courts when there is a disagreements.  Too many parents who separate on difficult terms expect to fight over their competing ‘rights’, rather than cooperate over their shared ‘responsibilities’. However it is equally important to recognise that some families need the protection of the family court.  This was highlighted in the Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases (publishing.service.gov.uk) which raised concerns about how family courts address domestic abuse and child sexual abuse in private law children proceedings. Submissions highlighted a feeling that abuse is systematically minimised, ranging from children’s voices not being heard, allegations being ignored, dismissed or disbelieved, to inadequate assessment of risk, traumatic court processes, perceived unsafe child arrangements, and abusers exercising continued control through repeat litigation and the threat of repeat litigation

Disagreements about children are often symptoms of unresolved emotions following relationship breakdown, and yet relational issues are not addressed in a system designed to administer justice. In practice, the adversarial nature of a justice system has known to increase stress and conflict within the family. It is equally important to understand that conflict between parents is experienced differently by children of different ages and levels of maturity. Research indicates that these age differences depend principally on an ability to understand the content of arguments (cognitive development), overall maturity, internal resources, and the availability of support systems.  As a society, we must protect children and restore their needs and rights as central in any disagreement between parents.

Sir Andrew quite rightly stated: “Where there are no issues of domestic abuse or child protection, parents ought to be able, or encouraged, to make arrangements for their own child, rather than come to a court of law and a judge to resolve the issues.”

Both of these report highlighted a wide range of training for all professional (legal and non-legal) in the family justice system, including: a cultural change programme to introduce and embed reforms to private law children’s proceedings to ensure a consistent approach.

These workshops align with the recommendations made in the “What about me?” Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation, Report of the family solutions group (Subgroup of The Private Law Working Group, Annex7), that all legal and non-legal professionals who practice with families with children should have mandatory core training in the following main areas:

  • Effects of on-going parental conflict on children
  • The screening and impact of domestic abuse (including controlling and coercive behaviour)
  • The psychological effects on parents of relationship breakdown
  • Mental health issues, including personality disorders and addiction
  • The non-court options available to parents to resolve family issues (finance and children) (Annex 7).

FamilySolutionsGroupReport_WhatAboutMe_12November2020.pdf-final.pdf (judiciary.uk)

 

Bookings are now being taken for the Parental Conflict workshops (see link below) https://www.parentingapartprogramme.co.uk/our-workshops/

If you are interested in the other workshops please contact The Parenting Apart Programme direct so that they can discuss this further with your organisation.

 

This article was submitted to be published by The Parenting Apart Programme as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Family Lawyer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Family Lawyer.

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