One of the most challenging decisions for separating couples can be the arrangements for their children following a split.
Many are concerned primarily with the way in which a child’s time will be divided as between their homes, meaning that other aspects of a child’s care and upbringing can be overlooked, until the time they arise.
CAFCASS have for quite some time had a Parenting Plan booklet for use by separated parents, which helps them work through the various issues which may arise in respect of their child and how they will deal with those issues, as and when they do arise. This covers not only the matter of where the child will live, but also how decisions will be made about health, education and religious matters, holidays and contact with extended family, after school trips and clubs, clothing and possessions, to name a few.
The Plan has now been re-launched in an online format, which allows it to be updated as things change, and which also provides for parents to complete it either separately, or jointly. CAFCASS have explained that the plan is aimed at encouraging parents to communicate, and offers them tips on how communication can be improved at what is inevitably a difficult time.
The new plan ties in with increasing emphasis placed on alternative dispute resolution within the family law system, and in child law in particular. If the new rules come in as expected, parents wishing to issue an application to deal with any of these kinds of matters will be required to attend a mediation assessment meeting before they are able to do so. It is hoped that implementing various practical ways of helping and encouraging parents to talk, even if grudgingly, will make Court more of a last resort.
The CAFCASS plan can be accessed online. Further tips on dealing with issues about children post separation, and the factors to take into account are also contained within the recently launched Family Law Made Simple guide book produced by the Slater and Gordon Family Team.
Cara Nuttall is a Family Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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