Supporting Separated Families – Leicester Local Alliance

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The onset of the pandemic placed many well-meaning pre-Covid intentions for reform on hold. However, the time has come to begin to work towards the formation of Leicester’s local SSFA and to implement the recommendations of the 2019 Private Law Working Group Report, the PLWG Second Report of March 2020 and the Private Law Advisory Group Final Report of December 2020.

Supporting Separated Families Alliances should operate at a local level, with a view to eventually being unified under a national umbrella. The intention is to improve access to support and advice for parents to solve any issues arising as a result of their separation, before they consider making applications to court.

According to the 2019 report, the key objectives of such an alliance or alliances should be:

a. To provide early information and help to families experiencing conflict so that they better understand the impact on children, strengthen their co-parenting skills, and facilitate access to therapeutic services for children who may be experiencing trauma;

b. To provide families, where there are safeguarding concerns, with information and signposting to support services in parallel with the court;

c. To encourage more families, where it is safe and appropriate for them to do so, to use services and resources outside of the court arena to support them through family breakdown, and help them to reach agreements; early intervention is key to mitigating the worst effects of breakdown;

d. To identify the specific needs of cases involving domestic abuse at an earlier stage, with better support and safety provided, with potentially better information provided to Cafcass and the court when/if these cases come before the court; we consider that the introduction of earlier support will benefit those families at risk of serious domestic abuse;

e. To refer families to wider advice and support services – including those available digitally; and then to deliver a tailored package of dispute resolution services – including, where appropriate, co-parenting support – as part of court-directed activities (with scope for discussions down the line whether this could potentially be commissioned and funded by Cafcass);

f. To ensure a consistent and coherent framework of standards for co-parenting services and the workforce delivering them.

LLFJB invites ideas and suggestions from local practitioners as to any services or organisations which ought to form part of our local alliance with a view to promoting the above objectives. The development will take some time and all ideas are welcome! Any suggestions can be submitted by the CONTACT US page.