The Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is a course which helps separated parents understand how to put their children first while they are separating, even though they may be in dispute with their child’s other parent.
Courts have the power, by making a court order, to ‘direct’ parents to attend a Cafcass approved SPIP. The content of this course is helpful in identifying ways to manage conflict and difficulties with your ex. Courts can order these courses, which typically are about half a day long. However, SPIPS are usually only ordered when there are sustained difficulties between parents, many months into court proceedings.
To speed things along, get some useful tips on what you can do to increase your chances of a positive outcome, it is worth considering getting ahead of the game and doing such a course as soon as you can when you are separating. Even if you think you are a perfect parent, you are likely to learn something and in any case, it is likely that judges will look favourably on you taking the initiative, completing a SPIP of your own free will and not waiting for it to be ordered.
SPIPS are free for service users when courts order them. If not ordered, the programme should cost £90 and can be arranged at relatively short notice. (probably a few weeks). The £90 could really be a good investment!
This is available now, nationally (online during Covid) and being Cafcass approved would be positively received not only by the judge, but also your Cafcass Family Court Adviser. Contact your local SPIP provider for more information.
If you have completed a SPIP or if you do so having read this, we’d love to hear how you got on and whether it made a difference. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘SPIP’ in the subject heading.
Avoiding the ‘Roadblocks’
Often people ask us ‘why should I do this when my ex does not’. The family justice system is slow and often unfair. It is therefore worth keeping out of it whenever possible. However, when it is not, it is best to avoid the roadblocks. So, even if you feel you do not need to attend a separated parenting course, by doing so you may not only find that it helps you to deal with difficult situations, it will also get ahead of what could be months of delay of waiting for a court to get round to ordering you to attend such a course.
Similarly, if your ex is falsely accuse you of alcohol or substance abuse, these are things that can add months to proceedings. You can get ahead of the game. For example, you may consider getting a hair strand test. You can go to your GP to assist or find a laboratory online. Please note, however, that in some cases, where you are already in court proceedings, it may be better to ask the court to order a test and have it properly witnessed to avoid the likelihood of such a test being dismissed as invalid.
The overall point here is, family justice is not efficient. It is usually painfully slow and it puts many obstacles in the way of litigants in contested hearings. The more roadblocks you can clear yourself and at an early stage, the better your chances of success.
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