Parents in Dispute is the name of a programme delivered between 2014 and 2015 by Tavistock Relationships in partnership with Cafcass, and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions as part of the ‘Help and Support for Separated Families Fund’. 

The project used a technique called Mentalization Based Therapy - Parenting Together. You can read more about our Mentalization approach here

The Parents in Dispute programme worked with a difficult-to-engage population – namely separated parents who were in entrenched conflict, for whom repeated court intervention had been unsuccessful in resolving conflict or improving their capacity to co-parent effectively.

Research conclusively demonstrates the negative impact which interparental conflict – whether overt or non-acrimonious – can have on children’s mental health. While most parents who separate come to mutually satisfactory arrangements about the care of their children without recourse to the court system, some do not. A minority of these become involved in protracted disputes played out in the family court system, which is very often damaging to the children involved, as well as hugely costly to the taxpayer.

In the majority of cases referred to the programme, we were successful not only in engaging both co-parents but in enabling them to attend sessions together. In the process, we tested the feasibility of Tavistock Relationships specialist intervention model for such parents (Mentalization Based Therapy - Parenting Together), for whom working together therapeutically is frequently found to be highly challenging (both for the parents and the professionals working with them).

Read the evaluation report here.