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Planning Together for Children is a programme that promotes co-operative parenting by helping both parents understand the impact of separation and conflict on children.

The programme is for parents who have been ordered to attend by the Family Courts, or who are attending before their hearing in agreement with their Cafcass officer.

It encourages parents to think about how they can communicate and work together to agree parenting arrangements without further court hearings and helps parents understand how disagreements and arguments can affect children.

How it works

There are several stages to the programme:

Online elearning course
Parents complete a self directed e-learning course online. To start, you’ll be emailed a log in by Cafcass which you’ll need to use within 72 hours, before it expires.

  • Interactive activities and videos focus on topics including what happens when parents go to court, understanding and managing emotion, how separation affects children, and understanding separation from a child’s point of view.
  • Parents can work through the course activities and videos in eight 10-minute parts logging in and out at their own pace, taking around two hours in total.

Group workshop
Once this is complete, parents take part in a workshop run on Zoom for around five parents for more learning and discussion. The course is run during the daytime including at weekends or split over two consecutive evenings into one hour sessions, which can be helpful for parents with small children. It is delivered to small groups of around five male and female parents by experienced, trained and friendly facilitators and takes two and a half hours.

The course provides a safe place to:

  • Learn what children need most when their parents are separating
  • Develop practical skills and ideas to improve communication and reduce conflict
  • Get support from parents in similar situations
  • Access additional support available to parents and children
  • Understand and reflect on the emotional impact of separation on parents

Former partners don’t attend the same session but it is important that both parents go on a programme.

Online parenting plan
The course also introduces parents to an interactive online parenting plan. The plan encourages agreement over sharing the care and support of children. Parents are encouraged to share the plan in a way that is understandable to the children.


For some parents, there may also be a follow-up phone call from a trainer up to six weeks after the workshop to see how things are working out.

If you feel there are any reasonable adjustments that will help you attend and fully participate please let us know before the course and we will do our best to help.


Who is the service for

Family Action run the service for parents court-ordered to attend in Greater Manchester, South and West Yorkshire, Liverpool, Merseyside, Birkenhead, Chester and Crewe, Cheshire, Essex and Suffolk, Reading, Guildford and Brighton. We run the service with our partners Action for Children.

Parents are either directed by the Court to attend or attend before their hearing in agreement with their Cafcass officer. If court-ordered they are required to go. A Cafcass-funded service, there is no charge to these parents to attend. An interpreter service is available and we will provide additional support if you need it.

The programme is appropriate if there are no current safeguarding concerns about children or parents.


Meet the team

    How to book your place

    If the Court has directed you to attend, or if you have agreed to attend with your Family Court Adviser before your Court case, Cafcass will email you a log in link to start your course. They’ll then forward your details to us and we’ll get in contact with you the following day with more information.

    Cafcass expects you to complete soon after your Court date, completing the elearning in ten days and the group session soon afterwards. There is no charge to attend the course.

    The difference we make

    What parents say

    “It has helped me understand the effects that the separation between us may have had on our children.”

    “Was good to talk to other people going through similar stuff. It was nice to know you’re not the only one.”

    “Amazing. Very good at involving everyone and helping you to understand difficult situations.”

    “Done extremely well considering the difficulties we’re all facing. I was put at ease and felt comfortable for the whole of the course.”

    Parent comments 2021-2022

    Downloads and further information

    National resources and useful contacts (Polish) (Urdu)
    Organisations offering support, advice and information to separated parents.

    Useful Information following the course (Polish) (Urdu)

    Includes videos showing how children see their parents arguments, what happens we lose control of our emotions and the importance of looking after yourself

    Useful books for children and adults
    Books for children to help them talk about divorce and separation and recommended reading for parents.

    Useful resources

    From the Family Justice Children and Young People’s Board
    A group of children and young people aged between 8 and 25 years old with experience of the family justice system.

    Children’s top tips for separated parents
    To help parents think about matters from their child’s perspective.

    Tips and ideas for enjoying contact online
    Gives parents tips and ideas for online contact.

    Child friendly guide to formal language found in family court proceedings

    My family’s changing – younger children leaflet

    My family’s changing – older children leaflet

    What happens when a family goes to Court – a children’s guide

    Other resources

    Mental Health – practical support for parents, children and young people (Polish) (Urdu)

    Domestic Abuse Useful helplines and websites (Polish) (Urdu)


    Family Mediation Week – 16th to 20th January 2023

    Family Mediation Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of family mediation and of the benefits it can bring to separating families. Our aim is to let more people know about the benefits of family mediation and encourage separating couples to think about family mediation as a way of helping them take control, make decisions together and build a positive future for their family.

    Please click here to see details of events for the general public.

    Please see here for a full timetable of the week’s events, including events for mediators and other professionals working with separated families.

    Contact us

    For any queries contact our team at Head Office

    T: 020 7241 7456 or 0207254 6251 (extension 6657)
    Open Monday- Friday 10.00-16.00. We receive a high volume of calls so please leave a voicemail if the line is busy. We will get back to you within two working days.


    If you want local information about the programme or to find out about volunteering to support the programme contact our local coordinators:

    Tracey Gore [email protected] 07791382964 (Liverpool, Cheshire, Manchester and Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire)
    Cath Roberts [email protected] 07833394819 (Essex, Suffolk and Brighton)