Direct Mediation Services

Planning Together for Children

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Planning Together for Children

The Planning Together for Children, previously named SPIP (Separated Parents Information Programme), is a course for parents, grandparents and carers who are experiencing communication issues about children, usually with another family members, such as a parent or ex-partner. All Planning Together for Children providers work in partnership with CAFCASS, which stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

The course is designed to help people reflect on their child related communications and to see if there is a different approach which could be taken. It also focuses how to best support your children during an often-difficult time.

The course generally runs for four hours in one day. It is most common for participants on the course to have been ordered to attend by the family court. When the court orders you to attend a Planning Together for Children, it is provided free of charge. If you have not been ordered to attend a the Planning Together for Children by a Court, or referred to a Planning Together for Children by CAFCASS, then you can still attend, but you will need to pay a fee.

It is hoped that on the course you will learn how to manage conflict and to find a new way forward. The course focuses on your child or children and considers separation from their perspective. You will be provided with resources, signposting and the opportunity to reflect on your separation and communications. People who attend the course often give very positive feedback, as they gain fresh perspectives and mechanisms as to how to move forward.




What does the Planning Together for Children course involve?

The Planning Together for Children course is a safe place designed to provide you with an opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding of the separation process. It covers 3 key modules:

  1. Your children
  2. Your communication
  3. Your emotions

Through your learning, you will learn more about your own separation journey and reflect on your communications and think about how to act in the best interests of your children.

As mentioned, the Planning Together for Children course runs for one four-hour session. Usually the Planning Together for Children course is delivered online, so you can do this from the comfort of your home. The session includes a presentation from a qualified Planning Together for Children trainer, as well as various tasks and exercises, which will engage you and allow you to reflect on your current parenting and communications and to look to the future.

It is important to remember that there are no right or wrong answers on the Planning Together for Children course and so there is no pass or fail. It is not school, but an opportunity to reflect and maybe consider new approaches to old problems.

You will never attend the same Planning Together for Children course as your separated partner. The groups are usually small, no more than 10 participants and it is a mix of mums, dads, grandparents, carers etc.

During the Planning Together for Children course, you will gain access to a number of resources and be able to ask questions to the trainers about how to deal with separation, communications and your children.

Everything shared during the Planning Together for Children course is confidential, so you can share your experiences, thoughts and feelings in full confidence.


Is Planning Together for Children right for me?

The course itself is incredibly useful in supporting parents, grandparents and carers, who are experiencing a separation and have children involved. It can be really helpful for people who struggle to focus on their children due to high emotional conflict. It is not unusual for family members to find that their emotions, such as anger, grief, sadness, loss can impact the children. Planning Together for Children is about recognising this and moving forward to a secure co-parenting future for your children.

It is important to remember that Planning Together for Children is not a course about how to be a parent. Rather, Planning Together for Children is a course that focuses on communications and develop your understanding on what your children may be going through at this time.

Do I have to attend a Planning Together for Children?

Where you have been ordered by the Court to attend a Planning Together for Children course, you should attend as it is a legal requirement.

In other circumstances, attending Planning Together for Children is not a requirement, however, it is strongly encouraged. You do not need the court to make an order to attend Planning Together for Children. You can book privately as a client.

Accessing Planning Together for Children early on in your separation journey can have a number of profound benefits. Separating parents or individual family members usually find the course really useful in moving toward better co-parenting and also reaching agreements for the future.

Some people choose to go on the Planning Together for Children course whilst also engaging in mediation, as it complements the process as a whole. The focus in mediation is always your children and their best interests. The learning during your Planning Together for Children course will enable you to strengthen this focus and reach agreements that keep your children at the centre of the separation journey.

How much does Planning Together for Children​ cost?

Where ordered by the court, you will not need to pay for Planning Together for Children. Though remember that you will have paid court fees prior to this – the cost of an application to the court for child arrangements is £215, and that does not include any legal fees!

The cost to attend a Planning Together for Children course without a court order is around £120. Parents, grandparents and family members, who reach agreements through both mediation and Planning Together for Children find that their overall fees are far less than what they would have been using the courts.

Planning Together for Children and family mediation

As mentioned above, attending Planning Together for Children either before or during mediation can really help the process. The content of the Planning Together for Children course looks at your emotions, your communication, and your children. It also looks at the separation process as a whole including financial and child arrangements, which are inevitably issues that you will be discussing at mediation.

The learning on the course itself will complement the mediation process and perhaps even reduce the number of sessions you need to attend. Remember that family mediation is about reaching positive agreements in the best interests of your children, which is exactly what Planning Together for Children is about.

What happens after Planning Together for Children?

Once you complete the course, you will be provided with a certificate that shows that you have attended. This certificate can be shown to your mediator, your lawyer or to the court to evidence that you have attended Planning Together for Children.

If you do end up at court, which is of course a last resort, you will be able to evidence to the court that you have taken steps to reach agreement and deal with conflict before making your court application. Some people take the Planning Together for Children course before court proceedings, so as not to slow the process down.

Please note, however, that any of your discussions or responses will not be shared with the court. The court will only be aware of your attendance. The only exception to this is if there are any safeguarding concerns.

However, the most important thing following attending Planning Together for Children is that hopefully you complete the course feeling more confident in your separation journey. You should be more understanding of your emotions and the emotions associated with separation. You should also be able to see separation through the eyes of your children and also feel prepared to move forward to successful co-parenting.

One of the best things about attending Planning Together for Children is that you will meet other separated parents, grandparents and carers in the same position as you. Through sharing experiences and advice, people attending Planning Together for Children usually feel much better than when they first arrived.

Want to known more about Planning Together for Children or family mediation?

You can call Direct Mediation Services on 0113 4689593, email or complete the form below for a free call back.

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