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What Is A Separated Parents Information Programme & Do I Need To Attend?

View profile for Catherine Hughes
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In the vast majority of family cases where the Family Court is asked to make decisions about arrangements for children because parents cannot agree, the parents will be directed to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).

Under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 the Court has the power to direct parents to attend a SPIP as an ‘activity direction’ to help establish, maintain or improve their involvement in the life of their child/children.

The SPIP is not a parenting course. The purpose of the programme is to help parents understand how to put the needs of their children first despite the fact that they are separated and are likely to be in conflict with one another.

The programme focuses upon what children need and upon better communication between parents. There is focus upon the emotional effects of separation and upon ways to move forward.


If the Court directs parents to attend a SPIP then it is free of charge.


Parents often worry that they will be required to attend together. This is not the case, they will always attend separately although both will be required to attend a programme. The programme is delivered to mixed groups of between 6 and 10 parents, not individually, and will generally consist of two group sessions of two hours.


The programme is delivered by professionals. In Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Newton Aycliffe the course provider is Families Talking. In Durham the provider is Relate. Parents can choose the most convenient venue in their area and there are frequent sessions so that work and family commitments can be accommodated.

If you are directed to attend a SPIP by the Court then you must do so, it is not optional. The course provider will notify the Court of your attendance.


Although parents are often reluctant to attend a SPIP feedback is very positive. Most parents feel that they benefit from attending and find the programme helpful and informative. Parents find it helpful to speak to others in similar situations and are reassured that they are not alone in what they are going through.


If you have a disagreement with your former partner in relation to your children, our  Family Law Team are specialists in this area.