Guidance on Positive Co-Parenting Programme and court updates

27th May 2020

We are all living in very difficult and uncertain times with many restrictions being made on our lives.  This could impact on our emotional wellbeing, cause tension and arguments are likely to occur amongst people living together in these challenging circumstances, especially when children contact arrangements are considered.

The courts and the welfare professionals offered further guidance regarding the Positive Co-Parenting Programme (PPP) which will be offered nationally in cases where the child is joined as a party to proceedings and a guardian is appointed to represent the child.

The Positive Co-Parenting Programme is delivered over 12 weeks and aims to help parents in family proceedings to reach an agreement on the best arrangements for the child, where parental conflict has been identified as a significant risk to them.

It will also be extended on a trial basis to cases where a Section 7 report has been ordered. This extension will be reviewed after six months.

In addition to the above the Court has planned for some time to move to digital filing in private law cases in Dorset area.

From the 4th May 2020 any new application or application within existing family proceedings must be issued via the online service.  The court will accept urgent applications direct at

The Court office will refer the electronic file to the relevant team (district judge and/or legal adviser) within 24 hours of issue, sending a copy to the Guardian (Cafcass) to start safeguarding enquiries.  

During Covid -19 lockdown cases that do not meet the urgency criteria will not automatically be listed for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA). Cafcass have been requested to explore with the parties alternative ways of resolving their dispute and to make recommendations to the court about how the issues between the parties might best be resolved.  Those recommendations will be included within the Cafcass safeguarding letter, which is to be sent to the court (by email) within 22 working days of the application being sent to Cafcass.   

The electronic file will be referred to a district judge to allocate the case.   The judge will decide whether a FHDRA (or some other type of hearing) is needed or whether to stay or adjourn the case for non-court dispute resolution.