Parenting After Parting – Helping your children through divorce and separation
In this blog Family Law in Partnership director James Pirrie reflects on the development of the Parenting After Parting project and the success that it has had in improving the lives of children affected by divorce or separation.
In 2007 Dominic Raeside, one of the founders of Family Law in Partnership and now FLiP’s Head of Mediation, proposed that the firm should co-sponsor a presentation from a visiting Texan. The presentation would involve a two-day tutorial on how the Brits might follow her initiative of workshops offering parents guidance around the tips and traps lying ahead as they sought to provide their best for their children during and after separation.
I was lucky enough to attend the presentation and saw immediately the element that was missing in the way that we practiced family law in the UK. (No particular insight involved there, this Texan was Christina McGhee who must rate as a motivational speaker on children issues at around the volume that Greta Thunberg does on the environment).
Fortunately I was also on the board of the national family lawyers organisation Resolution at the time. Resolution was fully engaged with the transformative project that was to become “Parenting After Parting”.
It is strange now that the tide has gone out leaving a beach-scape significantly changed to remember how the waves flooded and crashed during the early years. Thousands of hours were spent by the enthusiasts (notably on the board of Resolution but significantly Christina herself and Resolution CEO, Karen MacKay) and hundreds of thousands of words written and disseminated.
It was one of those leap tides when suddenly the wider culture was in alignment and the waves were pushed onshore and far up the beach. For once all of the not for profits seemed to be saying the same thing. We even had the Government involved with the Children’s Summit, fiercely promoted by Ed Balls, creating a powerful alliance with the nation’s press Agony Aunts and Uncles. In a short period, Christina & Resolution had:
- Disseminated the booklet https://resolution.org.uk/publications-books/separation-and-divorce-helping-parents-to-help-children/
- Written the book (“Parenting Apart”)
- Trained lawyers
- Sought to redesign their practice models and ways of working
- Developed a national training for workshop presenters
- Had the first wave of centres in place that could offer workshops for separating parents on a regular basis, redirecting a cohort of the separating parents towards ever improved outcomes for kids
… and a few of us (Liz Edwards of Amphlett Lissimore, then chair of Resolution, and Karen Barham particular heroes in the movement) had talked to anyone and everyone about the change that was needed.
Like any overdue revolution, it’s all so obvious in hindsight:
- why wouldn’t parents want to know more about how children would react to their parents separation. And why wouldn’t parents want to find a route map for supporting their children through this transition?
- why wouldn’t parents want to know about resources that could help them and longer term structures that would support their children well?
- who would want to rely on the services of lawyers for whom knowledge of and sensitivity to these elements was lacking, or go to a lawyer who did not know how to help clients access all that was needed?
The beach has not ended up quite as we would want:
- parenting workshops are not as omnipresent or ubiquitous as we thought they would be
- the training is available to lawyers but it is not mandatory
- the joined up revolution of self-evident truths spouting from all organisations involved in the business of separation has yet to land
and yet …
And yet the services and resources are there for those who seek them.
At FLiP our Parenting After Parting course has been improved and relaunched with the help of The Parent Practice, a fabulous organisation who specialise in training courses for parents. The new course runs over 3 weeks, with a 2 hour session each week, and a maximum of 12 participants.
Our Head of Mediation Dominic Raeside will be running the next Parenting After Parting course with The Parent Practice on Thursday 2nd July 2020 and those attending will be so much the richer for it … or, more specifically, the children of those attending will be way better able to manage the challenges of being parented out of two homes.
At Family Law in Partnership we are passionate about providing emotional and practical support to our clients throughout the divorce and separation process. To find out more about how we can help you through divorce and separation, contact any of our top London divorce and family lawyers at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 020 7420 5000.