Post-separation parenting - Effects on children

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See more resources on Post-separation parenting in the AIFS library catalogue

The influences of social connectedness on behaviour in young children: a longitudinal investigation using GUiNZ data

Jose P, Stuart J, Pryor J and Ja N
Wellington N.Z. : Ministry of Social Development, 2019.
This report investigates the relationship between family/whanau vulnerability and preschool children's behavioural and developmental outcomes, and whether social connectedness might act as a protective factor for vulnerable children. Data is taken from the Growing up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) longitudinal study. It found that higher levels of vulnerability in the antenatal period - including maternal education, maternal depression, household overcrowding, household income, household deprivation, and financial stress - were found to predict higher levels of externalising and internalising behaviour, higher levels of illness and developmental problems, and lower levels of prosocial behaviour in children at 4 and half years of age. Children raised in families that had experienced relationship transitions also reported higher externalising and internalising behaviour, and lower prosocial behaviour. Although neither family connectedness nor community connectedness appeared to reduce the impact of risk factors on externalising or internalising behaviour, family connectedness did enhance prosocial behaviour under conditions of low vulnerability. The report also investigated temporal pathways, comparing vulnerability in pregnancy, 9 months, 2 years, and 4.5 years of age. Over time, family connectedness was shown to predict reduced family stress and increased perceived support, both of which, in turn, predicted better behavioural outcomes. Overall, the findings indicate that social connectedness could be a useful protective factor.

Children's and parents' well-being in joint physical custody : a literature review.

Steinbach A
Family Process v. 58 no. 2 Jun 2019: 353-369
There is a growing move towards shared parenting, but debates still continue on its impact on children's and parents' wellbeing. This article reviews the literature from Australia and overseas and describes the findings of 40 studies. Overall, the studies indicate that children in shared custody fare the same if not better than children in sole custody arrangements. However, the studies themselves vary so much conceptually, methodologically, and contextually that further research is required.

When couples part: understanding the consequences for adults and children : executive summary

Coleman L and Glenn F
London : ONE Plus ONE, 2009
This paper summarises the key findings and implications from a review of the literature on the impact of separation on adults and children. The resounding conclusion from this review is that the association between couple relationship breakdown and disadvantage is evident through a wide range of health and socio-economic indicators, and the findings support the case for more investment to help strengthen family relationships and to minimise the burden when relationship breakdown does occur. This paper also includes the foreword by Professor Michael Rutter and the reference list.

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.

Does shared parenting help or hurt children in high-conflict divorced families?

Mahrer N, O'Hara K, Sandler I and Wolchik S
Journal of Divorce and Remarriage v. 59 no. 4 2018: 324-347
Research indicates that shared parenting is generally associated with better child adjustment following divorce, but there is disagreement about whether this holds true in cases of high parental conflict. This article attempts to untangle the evidence to help inform policy recommendations. It evaluates the different analytic approaches used in assessing whether the benefits of time or quality of parenting persist even when there is a high level of conflict between the parents following the divorce. It then reviews 11 Australian and overseas studies on the joint effects of conflict, parenting time, and parenting quality on children's postdivorce adjustment. It also considers the impact of the different methodologies used by these studies. Despite the limited number and heterogeneity of the studies, some tentative conclusions can be made, highlighting the impact of parenting quality, gender, and time since the divorce. The available evidence does not support a policy against shared parenting, but does provide some guidance on the factors that should be considered when making decisions about parenting time in high-conflict cases.

Family law property settlements : an exploratory quantitative analysis.

Turnbull C
Family Law Review v. 7 no. 3 2018: 215-230
This article adds to the research on the financial impact of separation. It presents findings from an exploratory study of the outcomes and reasoning processes behind a sample of 200 first-instance property settlement decisions involving families with children. It considers overall transfer of wealth, approaches to assessing contributions, value and ownership of property, superannuation, and dependent and independent children.

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.

Young children in divorce and separation : pilot study of a mediation-based co-parenting intervention.

McIntosh J and Tan E
Family Court Review v. 55 no. 3 Jul 2017: 329-344
Though developmental concerns for young children involved in parental divorce have long been recognised, there are few tailored education and intervention supports available for separating parents. This article reports on the pilot study of Young Children in Divorce and Separation (YCIDS), a mediation-based intervention that aims to assist separated parents of very young children to better understand and manage complex developmental and relationship challenges within family separation. The pilot study involved 6 mediation services in urban New South Wales, with 33 participating families assigned to either the intervention or a 'mediation as usual plus a booklet' control group. Outcomes include attrition, subsequent parenting agreements and arrangements, parent stress and acrimony, child behaviours and distress, parent satisfaction with agreements and the impact on children, and parent satisfaction with the intervention. Though this is a small scale study, the findings suggests the usefulness and cost benefits of this form of early education.

Domestic and family violence and parenting: mixed method insights into impact and support needs : key findings and future directions

Kaspiew R, Horsfall B, Qu L, Nicholson J, Humphreys C, Diemer K, Nguyen C, Buchanan F, Hooker L, Taft A, Westrupp E, Cooklin A, Carson R and Dunstan J
N.S.W. : ANROWS, 2017.
This paper presents key findings for policy and practice from a study into the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting capacity and parent-child relationships in Australia. Drawing on a mixed method approach involving analysis of three longitudinal data sets, a review of the literature, and interviews with service users, the study investigated parental conflict in families and impacts on the emotional health and parenting behaviours of mothers and fathers and child functioning; how DFV experienced before separation, after separation, or both affects parents' emotional health and parent-child relationships; and mothers' experiences of engagement with services in the domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law systems. The findings add to the evidence base on the impact of this violence and the issues that are shared or differ across gender and family structure.

Domestic and family violence and parenting: mixed method insights into impact and support needs : final report

Kaspiew R, Horsfall B, Qu L, Nicholson J, Humphreys C, Diemer K, Nguyen C, Buchanan F, Hooker L, Taft A, Westrupp E, Cooklin A, Carson R and Dunstan J
N.S.W. : ANROWS, 2017.
This report collates the findings of a research study into the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting capacity and parent-child relationships in Australia. The study focused on three main issues: parental conflict in families and impacts on the emotional health and parenting behaviours of mothers and fathers and child functioning; how DFV experienced before separation, after separation, or both affects parents' emotional health and parent-child relationships; and mothers' experiences of engagement with services in the domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law systems. A mixed method approach involving four separate components was employed, involving a review of the literature (also published separately), an analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, an analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF) and the Survey of Recently Separated Parents (SRSP), and interviews with 50 women in contact with DFV services. The findings add to the evidence base by bringing together evidence on a diversity of Australian populations and capturing the experiences and impacts on fathers, mothers, and children at varying ages and stages, enabling the identification of important issues across gender and family structure.

Divorce - for richer, for poorer

Brown L
Sydney : AMP Limited, 2016.
This report explores the financial impact of divorce in Australia - highlighting how the economic costs can be considerable in both the short and long term. It uses new analysis of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to look at the financial impact of divorce on home ownership, employment status, income, household assets and debt, superannuation, and retirement prospects, for people with or without children. It also examines spending on children, including household spending, child care, financial stress, and education outcomes. While most families start to recover economically five years after the divorce, there remains a significant gap in the financial well-being of people who are divorced from those who are married even five years later. Though the impacts are most significant for divorced mothers, it is clear that no one wins from divorce financially.

Child outcomes after parental separation: variations by contact and court involvement

Goisis A, Ozcan B and Sigle W
London : Ministry of Justice, 2016.
This report adds to the research on the nature and consequences of post-separation contact. It investigates whether contact between a child and a non-resident parent is associated with child well-being at age 11, and whether this varies by parental marital status, the level of post-separation contact, and whether separation issues were resolved with court involvement or not. Data is taken from the Millennium Cohort Study from the United Kingdom, for the subset of children who had experienced parental separation at some point between the ages of 9 months and 7 years. Outcomes included subjective well-being, engagement in antisocial behaviours and risk taking, and social-behavioural problems. The report also investigates patterns in the nature and frequency of contact, whether the provision of financial support varies by family characteristics, and whether court use during the separation process varies by family characteristics. Consistent with previous studies, the report finds that children who experienced parental separation by age 7 tended to have worse outcomes at age 11 than those whose parents were married at the time of birth and remained married: these differences were small, however. The results also tentatively suggest that court involvement during the separation process might be negatively associated with child outcomes and that more contact with the non-resident parent was associated with better outcomes for children. Further research is required.

What do the children have to say?: children's perceptions of the children of divorce intervention program

Senko L
"Few of the child-focused interventions that have been developed to address the negative effects of divorce have been extensively evaluated to validate their positive outcomes. One school-based preventive program that has undergone in-depth evaluations with multiple treatment and control groups to document its efficacy among children of different backgrounds is the Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) (Pedro-Carroll, 2005). While many studies have documented the durability and generalizability of its positive outcomes, there is insufficient qualitative research exploring children's perceptions of the program ... Therefore, through a process evaluation study, involving approximately forty children of divorce who attend two elementary schools in a public school district in New Jersey, this study investigated children's perceptions of CODIP. The following research questions guided my study: (1) how do students describe their experiences in CODIP? (2) in what ways have students benefitted from their involvement in CODIP? (3) which components of CODIP contributed to students' positive outcomes? (4) which features of the program did students like the most/least? (5) how did participants' perceptions of the program vary across developmental age groups? My data analysis revealed three main findings: (1) children benefitted by learning how to express their feelings, solve divorce-related problems, and be part of a peer support system; (2) the positive group dynamics, strong relationships with facilitators, and experiential aspects of the program contributed to these benefits; and (3) participants offered constructive feedback about environmental conditions and their desire for more hands-on activities. The implications of these findings are considered for program developers and school counselors, and recommendations for modifications to the program and considerations for implementation are offered."--Author abstract.

Relocation, research, and child custody disputes.

Parkinson P, Taylor N, Cashmore J and Austin W
Drozd, Leslie, ed. Saini, Michael, ed. Olesen, Nancy, ed. Parenting plan evaluations : applied research for the family court. 2nd ed. New York : Oxford University Press, 2016. 9780199396580: chapter 14
This chapter provides an overview of the legal issues involved in relocation cases and the approaches adopted in different international jurisdictions. A particular issue is the impact on children in these cases, who are often exposed to not only parental separation or divorce but parental conflict and physical distance from at least one parent. It reviews research from Australia, New Zealand, and overseas on the impact on families as well as the three research paradigms that underpin such studies. The court system needs to assist parents to review their options and to develop risk-management and harm-mitigation strategies.

Dissolution, conflict and children's developmental outcomes.

Ribar D, Sanders S and Thibout C
Family Functioning and Children's Educational Outcomes : Public Economics Forum, Canberra June 23, 2016. Melbourne : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2016: 24p
Though research has found that, on average, children have better developmental outcomes when they grow up with both biological parents, these averages mask differences within family structure. Though many children appear to suffer if their parents' relationship dissolves, other children do better over the medium and long run. This presentation explores whether conflict plays a mediating - or perhaps a causal - role in family dissolution and children's development. This document provides the slides presented on the day, which feature charts and some text. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

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.

On laughter and loss : children's views of shared time, parenting and security post-separation.

Sadowski C and McIntosh J
Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research v. 23 no. 1 Feb 2016: 69-86
This article explores which parental behaviours create a sense of security among children in shared time arrangements. Drawing on descriptive phenomenology, the study, with Australian school-children, investigates the conditions which contribute to a child's perceived security and contentment in shared time - such as cooperative, child-oriented and flexible co-parenting - and the conditions which contribute to insecurity - including longing for the absent parent.

Early life course family structure and children's socio-emotional and behavioural functioning : a view from Australia.

Perales F, O'Flaherty M and Baxter J
Child Indicators Research v. 9 no. 4 Dec 2016: 1003-1028
Research from overseas has found that children in one-parent and reconstituted families have worse socio-emotional and behavioural functioning than children from 'normative' or 'intact' families. This article explores whether this is also the case in Australia. It examines the associations between family structure and children's socio-emotional and behavioural outcomes, with particular regard to the accumulation, patterning and timing of exposures to different family types during childhood, as well as socio-economic capital and maternal mental health. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

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.

Is shared care indicated or contraindicated following parental separation?

Turner C
"There is currently a multitude of research relating to shared care and its effect on a child's psychosocial wellbeing following parental separation. However, there is no clear consensus in the literature about what custody arrangement is best for the child following parental separation, especially when there is inter-parental conflict. This systematic literature review aimed to provide a synthesis of the current literature surrounding shared care following separation. The review aimed to ascertain when shared care is indicated or contraindicated in families with children under the age of 12, across both conflict and no conflict families. [The review identified] a total of 24 included studies. Of these studies, 18 indicated that shared care was no worse for children's wellbeing than sole custody arrangements. Furthermore, it appears that it is not the care arrangement itself that affects child wellbeing, but a number of other positive and negative factors. These factors have been discussed at length with recommendations being provided for practitioners working in psychology, family therapy and family law."--Author abstract.

Infants and overnight care - post separation and divorce: background paper

Australian Association for Infant Mental Health
Doublebay, NSW : Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, 2015.
The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health has released guidance on parenting arrangements for infants and toddlers in separated families. This background paper provides the foundation for that guidance, by reviewing the current available research in relation to overnight care arrangement of children aged three years and under in families where the parents do not live together, due to family separation or because the parents have never lived together. Eight studies are reviewed, noting issues of parent conflict, attachment, child outcomes, and gender. As the research is minimal and inconsistent, the Association is of the view that a cautious approach to overnight care is required.

A qualitative synthesis of children's experiences of shared care post divorce.

Birnbaum R and Saini M
International Journal of Children's Rights v. 23 no. 1 2014: 109-132
This article adds to the limited evidence on children's experiences of shared care parenting arrangements by providing a systematic synthesis of the available qualitative studies. Several studies from Australia and overseas are reviewed. It identifies what is known about children and young adults' views on their lived experience of shared care parenting and its benefits and challenges from their point of view. The state of the research is also discussed.

Australian family law in context : commentary and materials.

Parkinson P
Pyrmont, N.S.W. : Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia, 2015.
This text book for law students examines the operation of family law in Australia. Featuring notes and questions for discussion, it examines the context of families and family law, the resolution of family disputes, the formation and dissolution of marriage, economic aspects of relationship breakdown, and children in family law.

Parental separation during childhood and adult children's wealth

Lersch P and Baxter J
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2015.
Divorce and separation have substantial consequences for children not only at the time but throughout their lives as adults. This paper adds to the research by investigating the neglected area of the relationship between parental separation in childhood and wealth in later adulthood. It examines whether the relationship varies by the timing of parental separation during childhood and whether the association varies over the life course - that is, can adult children compensate for their adverse childhood experiences over time? Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The study finds that parental separation is associated with substantially less wealth for adult children, with this disadvantage persisting over time. The most likely pathway is the influence of parental separation on adult children's partnership and childbearing choices, affecting the accumulation of wealth.

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.

Teachers facilitating support for young children experiencing parental separation and divorce.

Mahony L, Walsh K, Lunn J and Petriwskyj A
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 24 no. 10 Oct 2015: 2841-2852
This article explores how teachers support young children experiencing parental separation and divorce. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 21 early childhood teachers in Australia, revealing provision of emotional, behavioural, and academic support, and collaboration with parents and school personnel.
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