Newcastle and Hexham’s Best Children’s Lawyer, Lucinda Connell reports an innovative free online service from relationship charity OnePlusOne was launched in January 2014 to help parting parents arrange childcare as amicably as possible.

Couples rarely separate suddenly. Problems have often been simmering for many months, if not years and sadly children often become caught in the adult conflict. Since 3rd January 2014,  the service has been available to help parents work out arrangements for the children as early into a break-up as possible.

OnePlusOne Director, Penny Mansfield CBE, explains how early intervention can make a big difference.  She says: “Separating parents can become entrenched in their positions. If couples have a very nasty break-up they may find it impossible to work out arrangements for their children. If we can encourage them to think about new childcare needs before it becomes too difficult, that will be much better for everyone.”

Latest government figures show that more than half (52%) of parents said they find it hard to access the support they need when they separate. Figures show that there are a quarter of a million separated parents in Britain and the number of single parents with dependent children in 2012 was recorded as just under 2million.

Splitting Up? Put Kids First is the first online parenting plan that helps couple communicate and make arrangements about who will be seeing the children in a business like way. The service is available 24 hours a day. There is no need to book an appointment or go on a waiting list before help is available.

Research shows that women considering splitting up with their partners will frequently seek legal advice before they make a move to end the relationship. This service is designed to help people settle arrangements without the stress of legal costs.  The charity is particularly keen to get dads involved who are less likely to seek support. An online offer is more attractive to many men and also younger parents for whom doing things online is becoming a way of life.

The service also benefits and supports those who may already have legal advice and support in place.  Parents, whether separated or going through a separation, can create an online parenting plan and ultimately make decisions that are in their child’s best interests.  Parents can use the site to share ideas and record decisions about their children, either using their own parenting plan or a template.  The service compares versions and highlights where they don’t match up, allowing mums and dads to then make changes and click to agree or disagree. The service helps parents communicate and assists in preventing children from getting caught up in parental conflict and therefore also adds value to the service provided by lawyers.

Visit Splitting Up? Put Kids First for more information.