In 2011 divorce solicitors in Brighton, London and throughout the UK were able to read a report published by the Department for Education on the benefits of Parent Information Programmes (PIPs).
Titled Building bridges? An evaluation of the costs and effectiveness of the Separated Parents Information Programme it examined the most pertinent co-parenting factors which aid sustainability of contact arrangements and work in the best interests of children whose parents are divorcing or separating.
The broad conclusion of the report was that family law courts have limited ability to affect the outcomes in contact arrangements and that more resources should be aimed at creative programmes, such as PIPs, which seek to help parents settle their arrangements for contact independently and focus on improving parental relationships.
PIPs for parents and carers involved in divorce and separation
PIPS have subsequently been renamed Separated Parents Information Programmes, to quash notions that they are standard courses for all parents, and they are for parents (and in certain cases grandparents and step parents) who are applying to the family court to help settle their contact arrangement issues.
In cases where children arrangements are contested, family judges can order parents to attend a PIP and, in such a case, it is mandatory that they attend.
Parents do not participate together and the courses are always free.
The review made several recommendations for the use of PIPs including, amongst others:
- Courses should be made available to divorcing and separating couples who contest children arrangements regarding contact at an earlier stage, and in a voluntary capacity, before court referral becomes necessary;
- A single referral form requires development to aid capture of all required information;
- PIPs and associated materials should be made more widely available;
- The aims and content of PIPs should be reviewed to provide more focused programmes; and,
- PIP providers require mechanisms for practice and professional development.
Divorce solicitors and PIPs
If a voluntary PIPs system is introduced, it may be appropriate that family law lawyers are encouraged to suggest candidates for referral to PIPs, to the relevant authority, in cases where it quickly becomes apparent that divorcing couples are unlikely to agree upon children’s contact arrangements and could be a way to mitigate costs associated with divorce and court time expended in contentious proceedings.
For advice on children arrangements relating to divorce and separation, Healys family law team has years of experience and expertise. We also advise on high-value and complex divorce financial settlements and have handled successful cases in the High Court.
For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email email@example.com.