Adolescents and family breakdown

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Te korowai ture a-whanau: summary of submissions on the Panel's second consultation paper : Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, two rounds of public consultation were held aimed at identifying what's been working well and what hasn't. This paper summarises the themes raised in the second round of consultations, which sought feedback on some early proposals for reform made by the review. 138 submissions and meetings were made, regarding such matters as child safety, accessible information, counselling and therapeutic intervention, the Parenting Through Separation service, Family Dispute Resolution, legal advice and representation, Without Notice applications, triaging, complex cases, Family Justice Service Coordinator, Senior Family Court Registrar, Lawyer for Child, psychological reports, and costs.

A qualitative study on behalf of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice system reforms

UMR Research Limited, New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. This qualitative study was commissioned to help inform the review. It investigates families' experiences of the post-2014 services, with the aim of identifying what is working well and what could be improved and any unintended consequences of the reforms. A particular focus was the views of children and young people, Maori parents, Pasifika parents, and parents with disabilities. Interviews were conducted with 34 with parents and 13 young people. The main report presents the findings, key insights, and recommendations of the study; the appendix features methodological information and additional findings relating to specific professionals, namely the Lawyer for Child, counsellors, psychologists, judges, and mediators. Overall, both parents and children found the family justice system to be arduous, confusing, disempowering, and intimidating - highlighting areas for reform.

Less house, more home : adolescent and young adults' experiences of home following parental separation.

Francia L and Millear P
Family Law Review v. 8 no. 1 2019: 3-15
This article explores young people's sense of home following parental separation. It draws on interviews with 17 young people aged from 16 to 27 years old, regarding shared care and living arrangements, ongoing parental conflict, difficulties in parents sharing care and financial resources, parent repartnering, and differences in mother-child and father-child relationships. The findings highlighting the role of sense of belonging and relationship quality in defining a home, and the fluid and ambiguous concept of home for these young people.

Psychosocial profiles of adolescents from dissolved families : differences in depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J, Youssef G, Little K and Olsson C
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 241 Dec 2018: 325-337
This article explores the mental health of adolescents who had experienced parental separation, using data from the Australian Temperament Project. In particular, its investigates whether different groups of adolescents are at risk for developing depression. Adjustment, mental health, and antisocial behaviour were assessed throughout adolescence at 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 years of age. The study found that most of the adolescents from separated families were well-adjusted, but there were two groups at higher risk of subsequent mental health problems, and who could benefit from targeted intervention.

Psychosocial profiles of adolescents from dissolved families : differences in depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J, Youssef G, Little K and Olsson C
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 241 Dec 2018: 325-337
This article explores why some children from separated families develop depression and others do not. Using data from the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) from Victoria, this article investigates the different inter-related risk and protective factors that may explain variations in susceptibility to depressive symptoms in adolescence and young adulthood. The study found that most of the young people from dissolved families were well-adjusted in adolescence and at age 19/20, and highlights the need for targeted interventions for at risk groups.

Children and young people in separated families: family law system experiences and needs

Carson R, Dunstan E, Dunstan J and Roopani D
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018.
This report was commissioned to learn more about children and young people's experiences of the family law system during parental separation and how the system could better meet their needs. 61 children and young people aged 10-17 years old were interviewed, with 47 parents also helping with background information. The findings provide rich insights into the experiences and needs of children and young people, as well as the pathways used to resolve family law matters. Topics include: issues important to children and young people in making post-separation parenting arrangements, valued supports in dealing with parental separation, flexibility and changes in parenting arrangements, building post-separation relationships with parents, meaningful participation in decision making, experiences of the family law system, acknowledgement of their views and experiences, services that supported participation in decision making, and professional services and support considered effective by children and young people.

Family structure and childhood mental disorders : new findings from Australia.

Perales F, Johnson S, Baxter J, Lawrence D and Zubrick S
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology v. 52 no. 4 Apr 2017: 423-433
This article investigates whether family structure is associated with mental disorders in childhood. Using data from Young Minds Matter, the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Well-being, it compares a range of mental disorders in children aged from 4 to 17 and the children's family arrangements, as well as time since any family separation. The findings indicate that children in one-parent, blended, and step families experience a higher prevalence of mental disorders than children living with two biological parents. Differences in anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorders are noted.

Using family court data to explore links between adverse family experiences and proven youth offending

Forty R and Sturrock R
London : Ministry of Justice, 2017.
This paper explores whether there is a link between adverse family experiences and youth offending between the ages of 10 and 17. It matches British data in the Police National Computer (PNC) system and the family justice case management database (FamilyMan), which contains administrative information on public law cases, private law cases, domestic violence orders, adoption and divorce - the majority of public law cases involve an application for a care order, supervision order, or emergency protection order. The findings indicate an association between contact with the family courts as a child or young person and an increased likelihood of proven offending. A review of the literature suggests that this link may be explained largely by shared risk factors, including family poverty and maltreatment.

Young, anchored and free? Examining the dynamics of early housing pathways in Australia.

Tomaszewski W, Smith J, Parsell C, Tranter B, Laughland-Booy J and Skrbis Z
Journal of Youth Studies v. 20 no. 7 Sep 2017: 904-926
This article investigates the factors that influence young people's housing pathways in Australia, using data from the 'Our Lives' longitudinal study. It examines family and demographic characteristics, individual factors, and leaving and returning home for 2,082 young people followed from 12/13 years old to 21/22 years old. The study finds that early residential pathways reflect a mix of stable and dynamic influences, not all of which are in young people's control. It finds that events such as partnership formation or parental union dissolution encouraged leaving home, whereas close, supportive relationships with family and friends served to 'anchor' respondents at home for longer. Being employed at a younger age and having grown up rurally predicted both leaving and remaining out of home, and parental socioeconomic resources enabled young people to leave home and return if needed.

How many children in Australia are at risk of adult mental illness?

Guy S, Furber G, Leach M and Segal L
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry v. 50 no. 12 2016: 1146-1160
This article estimates the prevalence of children at risk for later mental illness in adulthood in Australia, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Key risk factors were taken from a 2013 analysis by Fryers and Brugha which identified 10 risk domains present in childhood and adolescence that are strongly associated with negative mental health outcomes in adulthood. These include: psychological disturbances, genetic influences, neurological vulnerability, disturbed behaviours such as conduct problems and bullying, personality, poor school performance, family adversity and life events, child maltreatment, parenting and parent psychological disturbance, and disrupted families, such as divorce and conflict. The findings indicate that risk factors for adult mental illness are already apparent in infancy and childhood, but the authors stress that these risk factors also represent opportunities for intervention.

Family dissolution and offspring depression and depressive symptoms : a systematic review of moderation effects.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J and Knight T
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 188 Dec 2015: 68-79
Though children from separated families face a higher risk of depression, many children will not experience this negative outcome - how do these children differ? This article reviews the international research literature to investigate what child or family characteristics or circumstances are associated with risk or resilience in children in separating families. The quality of the evidence is also assessed. Though further research is needed, the findings indicate that factors such as child age, gender, temperament, and IQ and maternal sensitivity play a role.

Mastery or misery : conflict between separated parents a psychological burden for children.

Francia L and Millear P
Journal of Divorce and Remarriage v. 56 no. 7 2015: 551-568
This article adds to the research on children's experiences of shared care in Australia. Interviews were conducted with 19 young people aged from 16 to 27 years old about their experiences in separated families, focusing on attachment following parental separation and how parental conflict challenged attachment and family relationships over time. The study found it is not parental conflict that creates psychological burden for children, but how parental conflict is handled. Two factors moderated the parent-child relationship: emotional security and responsive parenting.

Family socio-economic status, childhood life-events and the dynamics of depression from adolescence to early adulthood

Contoyannis P and Li J
Parkville, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, 2013.
Using data from the American National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this paper examines the roles of family socio-economic status, early childhood life-events, unobserved heterogeneity and pure state dependence in explaining the distribution of depression among adolescents and young adults. Variables studied include divorce or family bereavement or trauma during childhood, parental unemployment, occupation class, parental education, family income and poverty, gender, race, birth order, and maternal smoking or drinking during pregnancy.

Family factors in early school leaving [Reprint]

Robinson E and Meredith V
Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia v. 20 no. 2 2013: 30-40
Young people who leave school early are at greater risk of experiencing long-term unemployment and slipping into social exclusion as a result. This paper looks at the risk factors associated with young people exiting the education system prematurely, particularly in a family context. The impact of parental separation and changes to family structure on academic outcomes, and the continued importance of parental involvement in education in the secondary school years are further explored. Key messages for child and family support practitioners who are working with families with adolescent children are provided.

Family factors in early school leaving

Robinson E and Meredith V
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.
Young people who leave school early are at greater risk of experiencing long-term unemployment and slipping into social exclusion as a result. This paper looks at the risk factors associated with young people exiting the education system prematurely, particularly in a family context. The impact of parental separation and changes to family structure on academic outcomes, and the continued importance of parental involvement in education in the secondary school years are further explored. Key messages for child and family support practitioners who are working with families with adolescent children are provided.

Young people whose parents are separated or divorced : a case for researching their experiences at the intersection of home and school.

Beausang J, Farrell A and Walsh K
Educational Research v. 54 no. 3 2012: 343-356
This article explores the intersection of the experiences of young people from divorced backgrounds at both home and school. It reviews the literature from the 1990s to the present, locating Australian research within an international context. The review is framed by four main questions: What is the impact upon young people of the family transitions that occur when parents separate or divorce?; What is the everyday impact upon young people of moving between one household and another?; What does the research reveal regarding educational, social and emotional outcomes for this group?; and What does the research reveal regarding their school experiences? The international literature indicates that many young people whose parents separate or divorce are affected socially, emotionally, and educationally, but there is a paucity of local research from Australia, in particular from the perspectives of young people themselves.

Taking a longer view of contact: the perspectives of young adults who experienced parental separation in their youth

Fortin J, Hunt J and Scanlan L
Brighton : Sussex Law School, 2012.
The British government is looking at amending family law to promote the greater involvement of non-resident parents in their children's lives. However, little is known about the long-term impact of current contact arrangements laws on children. This study aims to address this research gap by documenting the views of young adults who experienced parental separation in their youth. It draws on a survey with 398 adults in England aged 18 to 35, who experienced parental separation before they turned 16. The survey investigated parenting arrangements, contact with non-resident parents, contact problems and how these were addressed, relations with parents, participation and inclusion, contact safety concerns, parental conflict, and the effect on their adult lives.

Parental separation from an adolescent perspective: what do they say?

Lodge J
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2012.
This paper explores young people's experiences of family relationships and adjustment after parental separation. It summarises key findings from a survey of 623 Australian adolescents from separated families, first published in the report 'Views of adolescents in separated families: a study of adolescents' experiences after the 2006 reforms to the Family Law System' (2010). The findings highlight adolescents' differing developmental capacities to understand and accept family changes, and their sensitivity to the conflicts and distress of their parents. The paper also notes the practical implications for parents and practitioners to support adolescents during separation.

Conflict in family relationships.

Noller P
Noller, Patricia, ed. Karantzas, Gery C., ed. The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of couples and family relationships. Chichester, UK : Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 9781444334500: 129-143
This chapter explores conflict within families. Sections include: misunderstandings and conflict in marriage, conflict styles, learning conflict patterns in the family, conflict strategies and relationship satisfaction, conflict in separated and divorcing families, family conflict and adolescent psychological adjustment, and differential parenting and conflict between siblings.

Supporting children & young people through change, loss and grief: an evaluation of the Seasons for Growth program

Newell S and Moss A
Lismore, N.S.W. : Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, 2011.
Seasons for Growth is a grief and loss group education program for children and young people who have experienced significant change in their lives, usually as a result of death, separation or divorce. Though evaluation studies from overseas have consistently found that the program has a strong, positive effect on children and young people, these evaluations have each experienced some limitations in sample size, scope or response rate. This new study was commissioned to conduct a larger-scale evaluation of the program. This report begins by providing an overview of the program and the development of the current evaluation tools. It then presents the evaluation results from 57 groups conducted across six regions in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland, involving a total of 334 children and young people aged between 6 and 16 years old. This new study support the findings previous evaluations, finding that the program is very well received and highly valued, and effectively supports children and young people through times of change, loss and grief. It is shown to build participants' understanding and skills, to enhance their emotional wellbeing, to enable them to express their views, thoughts and feelings and to strengthen their social and support networks. However, areas for refinement and further research are also identified.

Program spotlight : Supporting Children After Separation (Anglicare WA).

Caruana C
Family Relationships Quarterly no. 18 2011: 13-15
This article profiles Anglicare WA's Supporting Children After Separation (SCAS) Program. The SCAS program initiative was launched in 2008 by the federal government, and aims to provide dedicated support services around Australia for the children of separating parents. This article explains the counselling and support services for infants, children, and adolescents offered by the Anglicare WA program, as well as its case management, service pathways, and service challenges. The article is based on based on interviews with Jennie Hannan, Executive Manager of Services, Anglicare WA, and Tunya Petridis, Children's Consultant with Anglicare WA's Supporting Children After Separation (SCAS) Program.

Expecting to be rejected or accepted: children's optimistic and pessimistic relationship expectations, divorce, interparental conflict and parenting

McGregor L
2010.
One important aspect of children's adjustment in divorce is the development of their expectations of social relationships with others. This thesis investigates whether family dissolution and family processes - including interparental conflict and parenting - were correlates of children's optimistic and pessimistic views of their future relationships with others. Interviews were conducted with children aged 9 to 12 years - an age period when children show major advances in social cognitive processes. The thesis also develops and tests a new scale to measure children's relationship expectations: the Children's Optimistic and Pessimistic Expectations of Relationships Scale (COPER).

Parenting teenagers: relationships and behaviour : topic report.

Mountney K
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2010
We know from calls to helplines that parents of teenagers often struggle and feel isolated, particularly around behaviour and relationship issues. This literature reviews examines the research on these parenting issues. Topics include: conflict, parenting and support, communication and relationships, moving to independence, parental satisfaction, divorce and re-partnering, and what parents know - and want to know - about their teenagers' lives. The report also notes the issues for families affected by disability and the gaps in the research evidence. This review was conducted by the About Families project to help inform voluntary and public sector agencies in the development of services.

Views of adolescents in separated families: a study of adolescents' experiences after the 2006 reforms to the family law system

Lodge J and Alexander M
Canberra, A.C.T. : Attorney-General's Dept., 2010
As part of the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families, this report explores young people's experiences of family relationships, living arrangements, and adjustment after separation. Interviews were conducted in 2009 with 623 young people aged 12-18, whose parents had separated between 2006 and 2008. The study examined living arrangements, changes in care-time arrangements, involvement in decision making, sources of support, stepfamilies and grandparents, financial support and hardship, family violence and conflict, quality of relationships, and the effects on young people's wellbeing. The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families is part of the evaluation of the 2006 Family Law reforms. These reforms aimed to promote more cooperative parenting after separation and incorporate the views and feelings of children in custody arrangements.

Impact of family breakdown on children's well-being: evidence review

Mooney A, Oliver C and Smith M
London : Dept. for Children, Schools and Families, 2009.
This report was commissioned to highlight key findings concerning the antecedents, processes and sequelae of family breakdown and its impact on children. Due to the limited time and resources available for the review, it draws primarily on review-level evidence, which still considering the strength of the evidence - regarding association or causation and any gaps in knowledge. Sections include: differences in outcomes between children from intact and non-intact families; short-term and long-term effects; age and gender; differences between and within families; parental conflict; the quality of parenting and parent-child relationships; maternal mental health; socio-economic factors; repeated changes in family structures; children's perspectives on parental separation; facilitating children's adjustment to family breakdown; and optimising positive child outcomes through services and interventions. While family transitions place children at an increased risk of negative outcomes, the evidence shows that relatively few children and adolescents experience enduring problems, and some children can actually benefit when it brings to an end a 'harmful' family situation.

Literature review

Well Being of Children Following Parental Separation and Divorce Research Consortium
Clayton, Vic. : Monash University, 2009
The Well Being of Children Following Parental Separation and Divorce Research Consortium of 2009 is made up of fifteen members from the areas of research, policy development and service provision in Australia, and is funded by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. One of the main tasks of the Consortium is to identify research areas of interest and review the literature in these areas. This report presents the findings of the literature review, which will be used to determine the Consortium's Research Agenda. The review investigated the impact of parental separation and divorce on outcomes in childhood, adolescence, and later adulthood; gaining children's perspectives in research; involving children in family law processes; family violence; parental remarriage; children's contact with grandparents after divorce; and threats to children's interests as a result of the change in legislation.

Context, relationship transitions and conflict : explaining outcomes for Australian youth from non-intact families.

Mance P and Yu P
Journal of Population Research v. 27 no. 2 2010: 75-105
As in many other countries, non-traditional family types are increasing in prevalence in Australia. Prior studies consistently find poorer child outcomes associated with non-intact family type. Controlling for family characteristics decreases the negative effect; however, in most cases small but unexplained differences remain apparent. The current study examines differences in the outcomes of young adults from four family types - intact, stepfather, stepmother and never-repartnered lone-parent families - on four measures: educational attainment; being suspended from school; regular smoking; and trouble with police. The research uses information from 2,430 matched parent-youth pairs collected in a unique Australian study, the Youth in Focus Survey. Although between-group variations are described, differences are predominantly due to contextual factors associated with disadvantage, more prevalent in families who separate and repartner, rather than family structure in itself. For lone-parent and stepfather families, the number of family transitions since the youth's birth is also relevant. Parent-youth conflict explained little of the negative association between family structure and youth outcomes above the effect of contextual factors, but operated independently of family structure to affect youth outcomes. Possible reasons for unexplained differences between intact and stepmother families on some measures are discussed.

Conflict in divorcing and continuously married families : a study of marital, parent-child and sibling relationships.

Noller P, Feeney J, Sheehan G, Darlington Y and Rogers C
Journal of Divorce and Remarriage v. 49 no. 1-2 2008: 1-24
Family members in both separated or divorcing and married families completed a range of questionnaires about the conflict in three relationships - couple, parent-child, and sibling - across two phases of the study approximately 12 months apart. In addition, the adolescents completed measures of adjustment: self esteem, depression, and anxiety. Adolescents in a subset of the divorcing families were interviewed about the conflict in their families across the two phases. Analyses showed that conflict was higher in the separated or divorcing families across all three relationships, and that the highest levels of conflict occurred for the high-conflict divorcing families. Qualitative data from interviews illustrate the nature of the conflict.

Family separation: a guide for teens.

Australia. Child Support Agency
Belconnen, ACT : Child Support Agency, 2007
About 11,000 Australian teenagers each year experience family separation. This booklet is designed to help teenagers whose parents are separating to understand and cope with what is happening to them and their family. It identifies common situations, offers tips for dealing with them and gives information about where to get help. It covers: emotions; human and legal rights; relationship with parents, siblings, extended family and step family; coping with change; getting support from friends; looking after personal safety and mental health; useful coping strategies.

Cool with change: young people talking about support

Highet G
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2007.
This research briefing reports on interim findings from a study which seeks to understand more about Scottish children and young people's perspectives on what kinds of informal and formal support are helpful to them during family change, such as parental divorce, repartnering and bereavement.
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