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Blog post 2nd September 2020


Back to school and office.


Today I attended an interesting webinar arranged by Mills and Reeve which included discussions of school transitions during a pandemic

Generally, it is understood that for some a time of transition can be exciting. Times of transition can also be difficult, worrying and make you anxious. 


Changes can include divorce and separation, going back to school after a pandemic and going off to school for the first time or returning to the office.


Many Primary and secondary schools return this week. Many adults are also going back to work after the summer break or a period of working from home.


Amidst a pandemic with many changes in how work environment or school lessons will be delivered, mixing with other colleagues and students and wearing face masks.  We recognise that the uncertainty of all of this is a challenge. 


It was discussed that parents are encouraged to listen to their children and to model adaptable behaviour. 


To share the journey with their children and listen to them. 


A tip was given that parents try not to presume what their children are feeling but to share their feelings by way of discussion.


In a similar way adult need to be aware of their feelings about the changes to the old traditional ways and the effect of unexpected changes may have on their mental health. 


A simple trip to B and Q is no longer straightforward.


Some practical tips for back to school/office. 

  • Where are school shoes and backpack, and for adults laptop and phone charger? Find essential items in good time.
  • Try to organise packed lunch or snacks the night before.
  • For older children download their timetable and ensure they have a copy.
  • Check bus routes/train times in early course. These have also changed with requirements for face masks etc also coming in.

At this difficult time try as far as possible to a communicate with others. 


Separated parents are encouraged Put your children at the centre of the communication process. “Park up your differences.”


Try to show patience kindness and respect to others.


Good luck to all those returning to school or working in the office  this week.






















Blog post 1st July 2020

Parenting styles - attachment 

Parenting a child is difficult at the best of times. I think we can all agree that these are not really the best of times and separation often adds an extra pressure.

I found this podcast by Una Archer registered circle of security parenting facilitator really interesting .  I do think the principles are universally applicable.

video link here :

If you wish to know more about the circle of security more information is here .





Blog Post 20th May 2020



Webinar online video Family Mediation 11th May 2020


I enjoyed chairing a panel of distinguished mediators in discussing the process of online video family mediation.

For most people this means video meetings which use either Zoom, skype or teams.

Generally, those who use this find it great to encourage discssion ,share documents on screen and focus minds. Experts such as financial advisors and accountants can dial in to the meeting, so they do not have to be paid to travel.

Lawyers can also be involved and use separate rooms (in zoom)

It is generally felt that the meetings are quite intense, staring at a screen, and so meetings can be shorter or with plenty of breaks. Downsides can be not having enough bandwidth for both devices to be used in one household or concerns about safeguarding which mean that mediating remotely is not suitable.

Being able to do online mediation hopefully improves inclusivity for this process..

For example for those with young children or other home commitments , those with a disability or those living abroad or – as now – when families are compelled to say at home – 

We had 162 attendees for the webinar and a lively discussion.






Blog post 7th May 2020


Our Family Wizard 

A potentially useful tool for shared parenting.


OurFamilyWizard. App


James Evans gave an interesting presentation on 7th May 2020.


The idea is to make shared parenting communication  simplified.

  • Manage schedules,
  • Track expenses,
  • Share files,
  • Send secure messages
  • Securely store important child medical and other  information .
  • Grant access to experts working with your family, e.g. counsellor, parenting coordinator ,

This could be of even greater use for shared parenting during a crisis.

The link is here





Blog post 27th April 2020

Nuffield Foundation Advice

Set out below is an article written by Clive Manning  the Nuffield Foundation regarding the use of digital technology in miantining parental or extended family contact via technology. Hopefully this will be hlepful to find creative solutions. Here is the link if you wish to read the original.

7 questions to ask when using digital technology

to help maintainfamily contact -

27th Mar 2020

Social distancing throws up obvious challenges in ensuring ongoing face-to-face contact between children and their extended families. Digital technology can play a role in maintaining vital relationships— but before employing a new platform, practitioners should ask themselves some key questions to ensure the experience is safe, accessible and appropriate, and that it offers the best experience for each family.

What is the simplest way?

It may not provide the same richness as face-to-face or live video chat but conference calling by phone offers a relatively quick, simple and inclusive way of maintaining family contact.

Various conference calling services are available. Calls to some, such as whypay? are included in bundled minutes deals from landlines and mobile phones (though each party would need to check this with their provider). WHYPAY? is currently also offering free moderation features and call recording for three months.

Using a conference calling system means that other participants don’t need to know each other’s numbers.

Is it age-appropriate?

In the UK, only children aged 13 or over are able to give their own consent to the online processing of their data. This means that most social media platforms—Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram— have a minimum age requirement of 13. In the UK, WhatsApp users have to be 16 or over to use the service.

Who can contact who?

In WhatsApp chats, participants’ phone numbers are shared. On other platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, you have to register, and your username/profile is shared. Anyone with these IDs is able to make contact at any time, or share those details with others.

Many video services, for example Zoomand Whereby, now allow participants to join via a link without registering. This means that participants do not automatically share any contact details. However, it may be possible for those who have the link to share it and invite others into the same call.

What additional features are there?

Many platforms include additional features alongside video calls such as chat, live subtitles, screen sharing and recording. While these can be useful, sometimes they can prove difficult to moderate and manage safely. For example, in WhatsApp, users can share real-time location information.

Is the free version suitable?

Free-to-use services are likely to be paid for by advertising, or the sharing of customer data

 Paid-for services do not usually include advertising, and may allow better management of users and features that could help make contact safer. For example, Zoom Pro allows you to switch features on and off, and you can track what meetings are taking place across a whole organisation.

What’s in the background?

As call participants are likely to be in their own homes, it is important to set some basic ground rules in order to manage background noise and views. Digital tools may also help. For example, Skype lets you blur the backgroundand Zoom allows you to change it completely.

What behaviours are you introducing?

Using digital to support contact has lots of advantages. However, it may be that you are introducing a new tool or encouraging behaviour that may have a risk in a different context. Live video chat may be safely managed during organised contact for example—but it is helpful to remind children that is not the same for all video chats, and that these tools can be used for less good reasons, including exploitation.

It is also worth considering how digital contact will be sustained and integrated into wider organisational management systems and processes.

Parent Zone provides free resources, guides and ideas for professionals on supporting young people and all kinds of families in a connected world.

Other links

Digital Candle - One free hour of expert digital advice for charities

Internet Matters - What age can my child start social networking?

Learn My Way - A simple guide to using video calling

London CLC – Remote learning

NSPCC - Guide to social networks, apps and games

Parent Info - Help and advice for families in a digital world

Safer Internet Centre - Age restrictions on social media services

SWGfL - Safe remote learning for schools

Tes - Simplified terms and conditions for social media platforms


Author: Cliff Manning set up the digital youth participation network 


Blog post Child Arrangements affected by lock down

Apr 11, 2020

On 24 March, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, provided additional advice on compliance with Family Court Child arrangements Orders .


  1. Parents must abide by the ‘Rules on Staying at Home and Away from Others’ issued by the government on 23 March [‘the Stay at Home Rules’]. In addition to these Rules, advice about staying safe and reducing the spread of infection has been issued and updated by Public Health England and Public Health Wales [‘PHE/PHW’].
  2. The Stay at Home Rules have made the general position clear: it is no longer permitted for a person, and this would include a child, to be outside their home for any purpose other than essential shopping, daily exercise, medical need or attending essential work.
  3. Government guidance issued alongside the Stay at Home Rules on 23rd March deals specifically with child contact arrangements. It says:
    “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
    This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
  4. More generally, the best way to deal with these difficult times will be for parents to communicate with one another about their worries, and what they think would be a good, practical solution. Many people are very worried about Coronavirus and the health of themselves, their children and their extended family. Even if some parents think it is safe for contact to take place, it might be entirely reasonable for the other parent to be genuinely worried about this.
  5. Where parents, acting in agreement, exercise their parental responsibility to conclude that the arrangements set out in a CAO should be temporarily varied they are free to do so. It would be sensible for each parent to record such an agreement in a note, email or text message sent to each other.
  6. Where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements set out in a CAO, but one parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the CAO arrangements would be against current PHE/PHW advice, then that parent may exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe. If, after the event, the actions of a parent acting on their own in this way are questioned by the other parent in the Family Court, the court is likely to look to see whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in the light of the official advice and the Stay at Home Rules in place at that time, together with any specific evidence relating to the child or family.
  7. Where, either as a result of parental agreement or as a result of one parent on their own varying the arrangements, a child does not get to spend time with the other parent as set down in the CAO, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to be made to establish and maintain regular contact between the child and the other parent within the Stay at Home Rules, for example remotely – by Face-Time, WhatsApp Face-Time, Skype, Zoom or other video connection or, if that is not possible, by telephone.


Children Playing in the Park





Nuffield Centre advice

Our services in this area

Advantage Mediation offers family mediation and online family mediation to help work out arrangements for children. 

Do you have a question or want to make an appointment to discuss this area? you can email

Give us a call on 07843069381 07843069381 or use our contact form.

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© Mary Raymont