In most divorce cases, when parents cannot agree on child arrangements, the Family Court is asked to intervene and make a decision. As part of the process, the Court will instruct parents to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP), but what is a SPIP and what does it involve?

The Children Act 1989 gives the Family Court power to instruct parents to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme as a ‘contact activity direction’. A SPIP helps separating parents to establish, retain or improve their involvement in the life of their child or children.

Is a Separated Parents Information Programme a parenting course?

Separated Parents Information Programme

A separated parents information programme is not a parenting course.

No. Contrary to what you may have read or heard, a SPIP is not a parenting course. A SPIP is a structured process, with the sole purpose of helping parents to understand how to put the needs of their child or children first, despite being separated and likely to be in dispute.

A Separated Parents Information Programme is focused on the needs of a child or children and improving communication between parents. Additionally, the emotional effects of a breakup are discussed with practical steps to help parents move forward.

Do parents have to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme?

Attending a separated parents information programme

If instructed by the court, you must attend a separated parents information programme.

Yes. If the Family Court instructs you to attend a SPIP, it’s compulsory. A record of your attendance will be kept by the course provider and the Court will be notified.

A SPIP is led by professionals and delivered in mix groups of between 6 and 10 parents, not individually. There are typically two group sessions, each lasting approximately two hours.

Do both parents have to attend the same SPIP at the same time?

Attending a separated parents information programme.

Parents are not required to attend a separated parents information programme at the same time.

This is a common concern, but no, parents do not have to attend sessions together. You will always attend a SPIP separately, but both parents must attend a programme and it doesn’t have to be at the same venue.

Most SPIPs are free to attend and there are programmes run across the UK, operated by different providers. In Leicester, SPIPs are delivered by the Cambridge Family Mediation Service.

You may be hesitant to attend a SPIP, but the majority of parents find them really useful. Most say that they benefit from attending a SPIP and find it informative and helpful because they get to speak other attendees who find themselves in the same situation. This will give you reassurance that you’re not alone in what you’re going through.

Need advice on child arrangements? Contact Holland Family Law Leicester

Holland Family Law will support and advise you in all family matters involving children, including disputes over where a child should live and the time they should spend with parents and other relations.

We can help you to reach an agreement over the arrangements for a child, without the need for costly, confrontational court proceedings.

If you’re in dispute with your former partner over child arrangements and you’re not sure what to do next, talk to our expert family law team, in strictest confidence, today. Call 0116 436 2170 or email