What is a parenting charter?

When you are separating from your child’s other parent, you, your friends and family may talk about your relationship coming to an end. While your romantic relationship is of course ending, if you have children it can be helpful instead to think in terms of a transition from one relationship that was intertwined and romantic, to a new type of long-term relationship that enables you to parent together effectively, respectfully and supportively. Securing a new parenting relationship is understandably a very big ask, particularly when there is hurt and ill feeling relating to your separation: getting it right takes time, effort and input from both sides.

That said, putting effort into achieving a reasonable post-separation parenting relationship will pay dividends for your children, and actually make life easier for you, your wider families, any future partners and in all areas of your life. Research shows that children whose parents can cooperate constructively following their separation fare better in all areas of their lives and that the positive effects last for children throughout their lifetimes.

When you are going through the process of separation, it can help to consider some bigger picture, longer-term type questions. For example:

  • What sort of childhood do we want our children to experience now that we have separated?

  • How do we want our children to experience the separation itself?

  • What type of parenting relationship would we like to work towards having and what boundaries can we agree to set in place to achieve this?

  • What, ultimately, do we want our children to say about how we handled things as parents following our separation?

  • What can we do to make things most positive for our children?

To keep these goals in mind, it can help to put together a Parenting Charter or shared commitment type document setting out some longer-term goals for this new chapter in everyone’s lives.

Resolution - the organisation for family law professionals committed to promoting a constructive approach to family issues that considers the needs of the whole family - provides a suggested template for a Parenting Charter, as follows:

The Parenting Charter

Resolution encourages parents to agree, together, their children have the right to:

  • be at the centre of any decisions made about their lives;

  • feel and be loved and cared for by both parents;

  • know and have contact with both sides of their families, including any siblings who may not live with them, as long as they are safe;

  • a childhood, including freedom from the pressures of adult concerns, such as financial worries;

  • financial support and protection from poverty;

  • support and encouragement in all aspects of their lives, including their education, as well as their physical and mental well-being;

  • form and express their own views on any matter affecting them;

  • be kept informed about matters in an age-appropriate manner;

  • privacy and respect for their feelings, including the way they feel about each of their parents;

  • protection from information and material, including that found online, which may be harmful to them;

  • protection from harm, and from adults who might do them harm.

You can read the Charter by clicking on the link, here: https://resolution.org.uk/looking-for-help/parents-children-the-law/the-parenting-charter/.

Overarching the list above is a desire to ensure that children may continue to enjoy their childhood, as best as possible, free from the burdens of any adult issues or worries that some children whose parents separate can be susceptible to taking on. This may be particularly so if their parents are caught in conflict or if one parent is struggling with a mental health or other personal challenge, for example.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, our family lawyers work hard to understand the impact of separation for all family members, and to follow the Resolution Code, which includes working with our parent clients to help them reach outcomes that meet the needs of the whole family. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this blog, please contact Claudia Gilham on 03443 276246 or Claudia.Gilham@mills-reeve.com.

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