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Keeping families together: the benefits of a SPIP

View profile for Katie Buswell
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For divorcing and separating parents, the future can look scary and daunting. Our clients are having to go through a huge life changing event with often very little guidance and support on how to handle the range of emotions they are feeling; bereft, angry, guilty, frightened, fragile to name a few. Many feel the need to use the legal process as a way of validating the way they feel about their ex, to show that they are right, re-establish their identity. However, playing the blame game and the associated conflict continues to have a profoundly damaging emotional impact on the lives of children. Completely unintentionally, parents can find themselves in their legal battle (whether over children matters, financial matters or divorce proceedings) losing sight of how their conduct is impacting the children.

What therefore is a SPIP? A Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP) is a 4 hour group course and is designed to educate parents on how children cope with the separation of their parents, inform parents of the emotional journey children go through and help point out the common pitfalls even the best intending parents can unwittingly fall into. Parents can learn from the course what their children need most from them at the outset of their parents separating and throughout any proceedings.

The course gives an insight into how significant a parents own actions can be and just how much of a role and responsibility they have in determining how their children fare from the separation. The course not only educates on the potential impact on children but also gives practical advice and assistance in helping parents overcome conflict, achieve effective communication and how to better manage their reactions to stressful situations.

These courses are being used increasingly by the family courts who are recognising the practical help it offers parents. The Court are frequently directing parents to attend a SPIP within court proceedings. However, these courses are available to all separating parents and could have the potential to avoid long drawn out legal proceedings. There is not enough information readily available on SPIPs and therefore the majority of attendance is currently made up of those going through court proceedings but it is something that can and should benefit all parents going through separation; with or without court proceedings.

If you are going through a separation and wish to seek advice regarding matters concerning your children, please contact a member of our family team. We can help minimise the conflict, help you gain new perspectives and assist you in constructively navigating the complex and varied co-parenting world. After all, in most cases, the two people best placed to make decisions about their children and shape their future are their parents – not the Courts!

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