Court proceedings can be considerably stressful for parents. Often the court is the last resort if there has been little to no agreement reached over children matters.

The Court already provides referrals to the Separated Parents Information Programme, which teaches parents about the impact of poor parenting habits.

After a successful two-year trial, CAFCASS has now introduced the “Positive Co-Parenting Programme”. The programme takes place over a 12-week period, which unfortunately is only available to those people going through the court process. The course comprises 4 sessions – 1 with each parent, 1 with the child and a final session with both parents. The programme fulfils a lot of the same functions a Section 7 report does in that CAFCASS will be involved with both parents and the child in order to assess the best way forward.

The new innovation is what takes place at the last session. There has not been anything like this before. The last session, in essence, is a CAFCASS led mediation, which, provided both parents are agreeable, may help to limit the issues and ensure that any agreement is reached before the Court needs to intervene.

Of course the above will not be suitable in all cases. There may be cases where the parents are not willing to be in the same room as each other, let alone work towards an agreement. However, if parents are willing to engage with the process, it can be seen as a good way to limit conflict and start the process of rebuilding trust between the parents.

As more parents engage with this process, it will be interesting to see if the programme is further developed for wider application.