Parenting Arrangements for Young Children: Messages from Research
Australian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 236-257, 2011
37 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 31, 2012
Courts are required on a daily basis to make decisions in disputes about residence and contact arrangements for young children when the parents live apart. This article considers the social science evidence both on what parenting arrangements are likely to be optimal for young children at different developmental stages, and on risk factors to be avoided. In particular, it considers the evidence about when an overnight stay with the non-resident parent may be beneficial to a young child and when it is contra-indicated. The available research does not support the view that overnight stays for very young children are per se problematic, but rather highlights the importance of considering the overall context of the family circumstances in individual cases. There is also a need to consider what is realistic given the circumstances of the two parents. While appropriate arrangements need to be guided by what is optimal (absent risk factors), this will often have to be limited by what is practicable in the parents’ circumstances, and by the need to avoid harm.
Keywords: parental separation, overnight stays, infants, young children, applying research
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation