Co-parenting after relationship breakdown - what is the Parents’ Promise initiative?

20 May 2021

The Parents’ Promise is an initiative supported by a number of concerned organisations and charities, including Relate, Only Mums, Only Dads and the Tavistock. The Parents’ Promise “helps parents make a positive commitment to their children today, in case of a relationship breakdown tomorrow.” The idea is that the best time to plan to co-parent is not when you are in conflict, but before that occurs.

280,000 children a year in the UK are impacted by relationship breakdown. 1 in 3 cases end up in the family court. In 2019 there were over 200,000 Children’s Act orders made (an increase of 11%) and over 50,000 private law cases (an increase of 6%).

It is widely recognised that the impact of relationship breakdown on children, of whatever age, is immediate and can be long lasting. If parents are able to co-parent positively together then their children may still thrive. If they cannot, and their children become weapons in a long lasting and acrimonious battle they are likely to sustain terrible damage as a result.

The children of today become the adults of tomorrow. The primary cause of children being referred to counselling is relationship breakdown and related ongoing family tensions. The cost of relationship breakdown and the inability to co-parent successfully following it brings emotional, psychological and financial costs for the whole of society. If unaddressed the issues that children experience may impact upon their mental health and consequently their ability to form and sustain meaningful and healthy relationships themselves. They may suffer from addiction and anger problems and be unable to hold down a job.

The Parents’ Promise supports the need for evidence based research to assess the cost to society of a culture where positive co-parenting post-relationship breakdown is not an accepted part of the landscape. The cuts to funding in the family court system, to legal aid, to family support and to public sector services may well cost society a lot more than is thought to have been saved. The Parents’ Promise endorses the need for a change to societal attitudes. This would be through education and public campaigns.

The Parents’ Promise is a welcome initiative and aligns with the values of Resolution, an organisation of which many family lawyers are members. Resolution members adhere to a code of conduct, which includes the commitment to try and assist clients to resolve issues in a way that is non-confrontational and constructive.

Birketts is lucky enough to have the current national chair of Resolution, Juliet Harvey in our Family Team, as well as a number of Resolution Accredited members. Our team can assist you in making co-parenting arrangements, and if the matter does proceed to court advise you on a way forward.

Rachel Frost-Smith specialises in complex children cases and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Private Law Children and Private Law Children Advocacy.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2021.


Rachel Frost-Smith

Senior Associate and Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Rights Civil Proceedings)

+44 (0) 1223 643133


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