Considerations for determining parenting arrangements: factors that influence outcomes

Conclusion

Parents, researchers, social service workers, decision-makers, policy-makers and communities should be concerned about the well-being and long/short term outcomes for children in all family contexts. All of the factors and considerations from the research that were outlined above are important for all children and are especially important to consider when making parenting arrangements. Using the evidence and considering these factors allows decisions to be made in the best interest of the child, and allows for decisions to be based on the unique circumstances of the family.

When it comes to post-divorce/separation adjustment there is a large base of research that sets out a number of important considerations. Among the most important findings, it is clear that family breakdown does not cause child maladjustment and that no one post-divorce/separation family arrangement will work for all families. Instead, negative adjustment and poor outcomes are a product of a complex interplay of risk factors and protective factors, such as those discussed herein, that can affect each family to a different degree. This means that arrangements for children need to be developed with consideration of a host of factors that affect/apply to a particular family.

This report reviewed a number of important findings, addressing the time spent parenting, the quality of parenting, consistency and predictability in parenting, and pervasive and ongoing conflict. Other important considerations included: characteristics of the parent and child; safety of the child; social supports for children and parents; and practical elements. The factors and considerations outlined in this report are important to children’s post-divorce/separation adjustment, and should be considered when developing and implementing parenting arrangements. It is clear that individuals and families are not static entities, nor should arrangements for them be. Rather, arrangements will need to change based on any number of factors. Making parenting arrangements that are sensitive to the adjustment and outcome of children is a complex process with multiple considerations that need to be addressed and balanced. There is no-one-size-fits-all and even when appropriate arrangements are made, expect that they will need to be adjusted over time to facilitate the best possible outcome and adjustment for children.

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