Putting children and young people first in the family courts


Information for grown-ups

Resolving a dispute about arrangements for children can be hard. Research shows that continuing conflict within families can harm children. Where safe, it is usually best for parents to resolve their disputes outside of the family courts.

You can make decisions with your ex-partner or with the help of a mediator.

Cafcass may only become involved in a case at the request of the court. Find out what happens after you have recieved a letter from Cafcass.


Information about the family courts


Cafcass may be asked by the court to become involved a case in three main areas:



Helping you and your family through separation


If you’re splitting up, divorcing, or you’ve been separated for a while you might find that sorting out the practicalities can feel overwhelming, especially if you have children. But there are tools and information which can help you and your family through separation.


The Cafcass Parenting Plan


A Parenting Plan helps you and your ex work out arrangements for your child after you separate – even though you may be in dispute about other things. It helps you to put the best interests of your child first and to set out a shared commitment to your children

Your Plan will help you work out the practical decisions about children’s care in areas such as communication, living arrangements, money, religion, education, health care, and emotional well-being.  


Family Mediation


This is where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you and your ex work out an agreement about issues such as:

  • Arrangements for children after you break up (sometimes called residence or contact)

  • Child maintenance payments

  • Finances (for example, what to do with your house, savings, pension, debts)

Many people find that mediation is quicker, less stressful and less expensive than going to court.  (And if you do want to go to court, the judge will usually ask you to consider mediation first).  A mediator helps you and your ex come to an agreement without being on anyone's 'side', and it’s also possible to ensure that the views of children are heard too.  Find out more about family mediation.


Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP)


The Separated Parents Information Programme is a course which helps you understand how to put your children first while you are separating, even though you may be in dispute with your child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties. You will not attend the same session as your ex.


Supported Contact Centres


Supported Contact Centres offer local venues and facilities for Child Contact. These are voluntary organisations, and Cafcass will only refer to and work with centres that are accredited by the National Association of Child Contact Centres.


Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes (DVPP)


The Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme (DVPP) aims to help people, who have been abusive towards their partners or ex-partners, change their behaviour and develop respectful, non-abusive relationships.




We have resources for professionals who are working in, or carrying out research on, the family justice sector as well as those who are interested in the work we do in both private and public law cases.

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