SEPARATED parents in South Tyneside who are at loggerheads over child contact arrangements are being given a helping hand to sort out their differences.
Impact Family Services is offering separated or divorced couples the chance to take part in a free dispute resolution service and avoid court action.
The Dispute Resolution Separated Parents Information Programme is a four-hour session, which aims to get them talking again.
The limited time offer comes as January sees more couples seeking the help of the service, which is based in Beach Road, South Shields.
Child support worker Margaret Welch said: “January is known as divorce month.
“Many couples struggle on through Christmas but once January comes, it is often this month when couples decide they can’t take any more and decide to go their separate ways.
“On average, we see a 20 per cent increase in the number of couples coming to us and seeking our help.”
According to new figures for South Tyneside, about 500 parents took part in the parenting programme between January and December 2013 – while an average of 2,000 couples seek the help of the service each year.
The service also offers a First Steps Dispute Resolution for couples looking to separate or are not getting on, which can help them avoid the courtroom.
Mrs Welch added: “Impact Family Services specialises in supporting families through separation, divorce and child contact issues.
“We can offer a range of programmes and services and it may be worth making an appointment to see if we can help.”
Impact Family Services can be contacted on 456 7577.
The First Steps Dispute Resolution Programme aims to help people suffering from a relationship breakdown.
The service aims to open up communications to help issues associated with a break-up to be addressed.
Both parents are given the chance to give their side of the story and the opinions of their children is also taken into consideration.
The programme will see parents working alongsideside a family support worker who will devise a plan to help move things forward.
After an initial assessment plans could include:
*One to one support.
*Child contact arrangements - supported or supervised.
*Parenting information programmes.
The programme, which works with both parents, aims to keep families out of the court system.
For more information and to book an appointment contact Impact Family Services on 456 7577.