More couples discuss what they would do if they won the lottery than how they would co-parent their children in the event of separation, says the Positive Parenting Alliance – a coalition of over 20 children’s mental health charities, separated parenting groups, relationship charities and other invested stakeholders.

Now they have created ‘The Parents Promise’ to better protect children affected by family separation, aimed at reducing the long term emotional and developmental impacts that adversarial separation can have on children.

Their aims are long-term :

“to promote conversation and a change in the UK culture around divorce and separation.  From one that is often adversarial and family court-based, to one of greater adult communication and child-centricity”.

The Alliance say that research has found that almost 9 in 10 couples (87%) have talked about how they would spend a lottery win, but just 5% admit to having discussed potential parenting arrangements in the event of a separation or divorce (Online research conducted by Parent Ping in February 2021. Sample of 2,739 parents). This is set against a backdrop of around 280,000 children being impacted by parental separation each year, both from cohabiting relationships that break down and marriages that end in divorce.

The Alliance is asking all UK parents to make The Parents Promise – a commitment made today, whilst a couple is still together, about how they will do what’s best for the long-term wellbeing and mental health of their children, should their relationship break down in the future. 

Founder and parent James Hayhurst comments:

“The Parents Promise aims to change the conversation about parental separation, both within families and in wider society. It’s based on a simple and important concept that, safeguarding concerns notwithstanding, every child has a right to a positive relationship with both parents and that no child should be asked or forced to choose between their parents.

It’s not surprising that most couples have not had a conversation about what would happen should they split up. But, for many, it will happen. The ask is simple: open a dialogue with your partner when you are still in love – not at the point of a relationship breakdown – and make a commitment together to put your child first, whatever happens. In doing so, we hope to drive positive behavioural change whereby thousands of couples and their children, will be protected from the devastating, and often avoidable, impacts of an adversarial split.”

According to the Family Solutions Group, 280,000 children experience their parents separating every year, with 1 in 3 of those separations going to court to resolve child arrangements. They want to reduce the numbers of families going to court.

Joanne Edwards, Family Lawyer and Mediator at Forsters LLP comments:

“It is a common misconception that there is no such thing as a good divorce or separation. In fact, for most couples, court does not need to be the default. Often, the problem is that parents are having discussions right at the point of separation, when emotions are raw and the needs of the children can become lost in parental conflict.

This is why a simple tool like the Parents Promise is so powerful.  Having a conversation before the point of break up can act as a helpful reminder later down the line that these two people were, and remain, loving parents first and foremost. Whilst a relationship can be ended, a commitment to be a parent is lifelong.”

For more information, to support the initiative and make the Parents Promise today, visit: