When parents separate there is a lot to consider. As well as it of course being an extremely difficult time for the separating parties it is even more difficult and upsetting for the children. A lot will change for the children particularly, how much time they will spend with each parent.

It is important that the children are at the forefront of separating parents minds and their interests are put first.

It is also important that parents remain civil even after separation for the sake of the children. The children need to grow up without animosity between their parents so that the effects of separation are as minimal as possible.

To help in discussing and deciding the arrangements for the children, CAFCASS have prepared a parenting plan which can be downloaded from their website

CAFCASS are The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service who look after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. It is independent of the Courts and Social Services. They work with children and their families, and then advise the Courts on what is considered to be in the best interests of individual children.

CAFCASS describe the parenting plan as follows:-

The Parenting Plan is a written plan worked out between parents after they separate and it covers the practical issues of parenting.

The Plan can help clarify the arrangements you need to put in place to care for your children after separation, without having to go to court. It can help you in dealings with your children's other parent or carer, and it asks parents to put the best interests of their child first.

Some of the benefits of making a Parenting Plan are:-

• it will help everyone involved know what is expected of them;

• it acts as a valuable reference to go back to; and

• it sets out practical decisions about the children, such as living arrangements, education and health care.

As well as the points above, it will also help parents communicate effectively and work together for the benefit of their children. This will help in the longer term so that parents have an amicable relationship and can attend events together such as parents evenings and social events with the children and the children do not suffer.

The parenting plan helps parents ensure that the focus is on the children and not any issues between them which led to their separation.

At Ramsdens, our expert family lawyers are resolution trained meaning that we focus on resolving matters in a non-confrontational way. If you feel that you need our help following separation then please do not hesitate to contact us to book a free 30 minute consultation at any of our 12 West Yorkshire offices. You can call us free on 08000 147720.