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Parents' Day – promoting positive parental relationships

'Parent’s Day' is observed in the United States on the fourth Sunday of July, a celebration created in 1994 under President Bill Clinton.

'Parent’s Day' is observed in the United States on the fourth Sunday of July, a celebration created in 1994 under President Bill Clinton. This year it will take place on Sunday 23 July 2017.

In a similar initiative, 1 June has also been proclaimed as 'Global Day of Parents' by the United Nations as a mark of appreciation for the commitment of parents towards their children.

The US event is said to seek to promote responsible parenting and to recognise positive parental role models. Information about the event states that “Citizens, organisations, and federal, state, and local governmental and legislative entities are encouraged to recognise Parents’ Day through proclamations, activities, and educational efforts to recognise, uplift and support the role of parents in bringing up their children.”

No doubt the celebrations are similar to those we mark with Mothers Day and Fathers Day here in UK.

As family lawyers, where possible we seek to promote positive parenting relationships following relationship breakdown. Our laws enshrine the concept of ‘parental responsibility’ and that decision making by parents with consensus about how to support their child’s welfare is the aspiration. We have a ‘No Order principle’ which applies to parents who are not in dispute - it is not necessary to apply for a court order to formalise a child care arrangement if there is no disagreement over a child’s welfare, upbringing or which parent they live with.

Under the Children Act, orders can be made if there is a dispute, and the court will always rule that no order should be made unless it is in the best interests of the child. Any decision is made in accordance with that child’s best interests.

Unless a case is very urgent, or involves a risk of harm to children, in every child dispute, parents are now obliged to explore the option of family mediation before issuing court proceedings. Family law mediators are trained to help separated couples resolve disputes, including financial settlements and arrangements for any children. A mediator is impartial, and meets the parties together to assist them in identifying those issues that are not yet agreed upon and help them to try and reach agreement.

Many parties enter into mediation and pursue it to the conclusion of a satisfactory settlement in respect of child arrangements. It is usually advisable for parties going through mediation to retain their own solicitors to provide independent advice following sessions.

Mediation is not a suitable forum for all cases and clients need to consider carefully how they wish to proceed. To assess whether mediation might be appropriate, parties should seek expert family law advice.

Fiona Turner is a Partner in the family law team: fiona.turner@weightmans.com.