A selection of events, thought pieces and papers developed and delivered by Trish individually, the interdisciplinary team or in partnership with other respected professionals from our network.
Tel-Aviv International Society of Family Law Conference
Trish represented Co-Parenting Matters at the International Society of Family Law Conference: Children’s Rights and Interests. Celebrating 30 Years of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 9/12/19 – 10/12/19.
Click for details of Trish’s recent international speaking engagements and her reflections on how key learnings will impact upon practice.
Guidelines for Co-Parenting During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic
Guidelines for co-parents during the CORONAVIRUS pandemic
l. Stay Healthy. Comply with all Government and NHS England guidelines and model good behaviour for your children with regular hand washing, cleaning down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing of 2.5 meters. This also means keeping up to date with the regular guidelines from the Government. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid reading too much about Coronavirus on social media.
2. Practice Mindful Co-Parenting. Be honest about the seriousness of Coronavirus but maintain a calm attitude and communicate to your children your belief that everything will go back to normal in time. Avoid making thoughtless comments in front of the children and exposing them to all the media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on all the time. At the same time, support your children to ask questions and to talk to you about their concerns. Answer them in a genuine way at a level that is age-appropriate.
3. Remain Compliant with court orders and contact agreements in child arrangements orders. As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing what you want to despite the challenging circumstances. The contact agreement or court order exists to prevent conflict and animosity over the details of when the children spend time with each co-parent. During times of uncertainty, children will flourish more on consistency, predictability and routine. Try your best to stay on the same page as the other co-parent. The Government has stated co-parents can leave home to move children under the age of 18 between their parent’s homes. If it is safe for health each co-parent to continue to spend time with the child discuss what rules and restrictions will be put in place in each home regarding social distancing in each home. In these difficult times the children’s welfare is paramount and will take precedence over any parental rights in the eyes of the Court. If you and your co-parent are both well and there is nothing in Government guidance or Coronavirus legislation that prevents contact, arrangements should continue. It is always preferable to communicate together about how you can agree on arrangements are to continue. It is understood that agreeing new arrangements with your co-parent is not easy or always possible.
4. Be Creative. Recognising these are challenging circumstances it would be naive to expect that nothing will change when parents are being advised not to fly, not to go on holiday and walk in parks for limited amounts of time. The usual and taken for granted ways of spending time with children are unavailable. Some co-parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the pandemic and other co-parents may be unemployed or working reduced hours. Plans between co-parents will inevitably have to change. Encourage the children to have closeness with the co-parent who is not going to see the children through shared books, films, games. Make use of social media such as downloading an Appt to video-chat while reading and drawing and see each other and talk on FaceTime or Skype. Share the resources for online learning opportunities you have with the co-parent who is not home schooling the children. Try your best to make sure that your children’s lives are as normal as they can be in the circumstances. You might choose to use a co-parenting Appt such as Our Family Wizard or AppClose.
5. Be Transparent Provide clear and open information to your co-parent about any concerns or confirmed exposure to the virus. Work together o agree a plan on what steps each of you will take to protect the children from exposure to Coronavirus. Ensure you are in agreement that both co-parents be informed immediately if the child is exhibiting any possible symptoms of the virus. If one co-parent is unwilling or reluctant to work together, continue to try to do the best you can for your children. If you must deviate from the Court Order, make sure you discuss this with the other co-parent. If you are worried that the other co-parent is not looking after the best intrests of the children or is making risky decisions for them, communicate your concerns in writing and discuss with your solicitor. Make sure any changes that you make to the existing contact in the child arrangements order are in line with Government guidance and legislation which may change quickly and put these in writing.
6. Be Generous. Try to provide additional time to the co-parent if they miss out on contact time, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable flexibilities to be incorporated into any changes you make. The Court will take seriously concerns raised in later applications about co-parents who are inflexible in these highly unusual circumstances. If you as a co-parent are struggling please approach me and we can schedule a therapeutic parenting support session. If either co-parent’s work exposes them to an increased risk of infection or either parent is diagnosed with COVID – 19, find ways of working together to come up with creative solutions to make sure the children have other online meaningful time with the co-parent who is self-isolating or is infected. If one of the co-parents becomes unwell it cannot be stressed enough the importance of regular contact via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom or video chat to ensure both co-parents retain in a meaningful parent – child relationship with the child. It is important that the children have contact with their extended family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles during the pandemic through Skype/FaceTime/Zoom etc.
7. Be Understanding. There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for many, co-parents, both those who are paying child maintenance and those who are receiving CSA. The co-parent who is paying should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The co-parent who is receiving payments should try to be understanding and compassionate under these challenging and temporary circumstances. Adversity can become an opportunity for co-parents to find other novel ways of coming together and focus on what is in the best interests of the children. For many children, the images and experiences of the days of the Coronavirus and how their co-parents worked together and supported them and each other will leave etched childhood memories. It’s important for the children to have a containing and holding experience and memories that both co-parents did everything they could and were able to effectively communicate together to explain what was happening. If temporary changes have to be made to the child arrangements order it may feel frustrating and restrictive. All restrictions on the normal child arrangements will be temporary. It’s extremely important to continue to try to sustain an effective co-parenting alliance during these difficult times in the best interests of the children.
8. Be Distress Resilient. Bring together an emotional aid tool box of techniques to draw on during these stressful days and weeks ahead. Set some goals for how you will develop emotional muscle to sustain you during this time. Practice deep breathing, and slowing down your breathing when you are stressed. Use rational emotive therapeutic techniques by making calming statement such as, “while this may be what my co-parent thinks of me, I know I am a loving co-parent to my children who is doing the best I am able to”. Your co-parent’s opinions about you do not define who are you or your worth. Develop solution-focussed techniques such as describing the practical solutions to the presenting issues and try to agree on one thing with the other co-parent. Try to remain in the here and now and not the past and avoid raking up the past spousal relationship history and instead focus on the co-parenting relationship.
9. Continue Positive Co-Parenting. Accept your co-parent’s strengths and limitations and express gratitude for the important person your co-parent is in your children’s lives. Practice forgiving yourself and your co-parent as soon as you are able. Consider the parts of the co-parent that you appreciate your co-parents parenting of your children and say this. Find small ways to show respect to the other co-parent. Work on acceptance as you are not able to change the characteristics and personality of your co-parent. See your co-parent as they are and accept they won’t change because you would like them to. Have the courage to say thank you to your co-parent as this is a powerful antidote to reducing tension and conflict. Practice letting go of your anger and hurt. Don’t wait for the other co-parent to activate feelings – take responsibility for managing your own feelings in the interactions with the other co-parent.
10. Understand The Difference Between Cooperation and Competition. Try to be mindful of the triggers in your communication with the other co-parent leading to an amplification of tension and try to avoid forcefully arguing you position over and over. Instead pace yourself to clarify what the miscommunication and misunderstanding is about and let go of the need to win. Refrain from thinking you understand the other co-parent’s perspectives by engaging in counter argument. Practice ‘active listening’ and reflective mindful co-parenting responses with the best interests of your children at the heart of the exchanges. Explore what your co-parent’s thoughts and feelings are in relation to what they feel or have interpreted. Change the trajectory of our old ways of relating by resisting any tendency to selective perception, passive-aggressive interactions and self-fulfilling prophecies. Consider change is the only certainty and let go of the belief the cooperation with the other co-parent is not possible.
Founder Co-Parenting Matters
Specialist Systemic Family Therapist / Psychodynamic Psychotherapist / Play Therapist
Consultant Independent Social Worker / ISW / Expert Witness / Family Mediator
25th March 2020
The Remote Family Court: A Guide for ISW’s Giving Evidence in Court: Mr. Justice MacDonald 23rd March 2020. Nagalro: The Professional Association for Children’s Guardians, Family Court Advisors and Independent Social Workers.
Caronavirus (Covid – 19) Resources and Information. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts AFCC, 25th March 2020
Caronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangements Orders. The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice, 24th March 2020
These guidelines are the original intellectual property of Co-Parenting Matters, may only be shared with written consent and will be amended in line with updates from the Government.
Collaborations with Family Law Hub
In the first of a series of collaborations with legal firms to increase the knwledge of the wider family law community, Trish recently appeared as an expert panel presenter on The Family Law hub.
News of another exclusive webinar on the emotional needs of children during separation. Book your free place by following the link.
Patricia Barry-Relph,child and family therapist and founder of Co-parenting Matters, and James Evans of Our FamilyWizard (OFW) have teamed up to discuss how children, families and courts are managing the emotional demands of separation during these difficult times.
You can view a video of the session by following this link.
Second in Series: Trish leads an important discussion on Parental Alienation and the interface with public law proceedings.
For the second part in this series on Parental Alienation, Trish has been invited to expand upon her session on the realities of this growing childcare issue and implications for the legal profession and parents alike.
42 Bedford Row Barristers is delighted to invite you to the second season of Family Law webinars. The first of six sessions is set for Tuesday 3 November at 5.00 entitled “Parental Alienation – Part Two – After the Fact Finding”. The session will feature 42 BR barrister Sharan Bhachu, Venters Solicitors Sherma Polidore and Trish Barry-Relph from Co Parenting Matters. Follow this link for your invitation: https://lnkd.in/d7iyczS
A Must Watch: Bob Geldof on Separation and the Family Court
Mobile Co-Parenting Matters
Tricky times call for flexible solutions, especially as the challenges the team deal with don’t pause for a global pandemic and various forms of lockdown.
Here’s a lovely shot of two members of the team on location this week, in the north of England to prove the point.
The Co-Parenting Matters, Covid – 19 safe, mobile team, in this instance Trish and Kayla, have taken a motor home and camper van with them this week in order to spend extended time with a family in need, saving on travel time and costs and accommodation expenses, enabling them to focus on what they do best.
“We’ve had to jump on empty planes, boats and trains, during this #Covid19 pandemic, as, while remote consultations certainly have their merits, sometimes you simply have to meet face to face and obivously that calls for adapting to the demands of the time.”Trish
“One of the many benefits of having a diverse inter-disciplinary team network to call upon is that we can more easily match support to client needs, with Trish acting as the client and diagnostic lead as well as mentor.”
Kayla has extensive experience working with adults with psychiatric diagnoses, and special needs who experience emotional challenges living in the community. Kayla has taught African drumming and dance in schools, and youth clubs. Kayla has run retreats specifically for people in recovery from drugs and alcohol. She is presently completing a training in meditation for children
Kayla’s reflective sensitivity and capacity to tune into clients needs is combined in her unique approach. A yoga teacher, with training in reflexology, yoga massage, Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP, Indian Head Massage, Swedish body massage, drumming workshops, Reiki Master and Tibetian bowls and meditation brings a blend of physical, neurological, sensual and spiritual awareness to Kayla’s practice.
The Role of an Independent Social Worker (ISW)
As part of an ongoing series building the knowledge base of the legal profession, so often partners in the important work that Co-Parenting Matters does, Tricia recently (September 2022) gave another talk to a room full of 150 family lawyers.
This time the topic was the Role of the Independent Social Worker (ISW),
You can request the details of her talk here by completing the short enquiries proforma.