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Parenting Arrangements for Young Children: Messages from Research

Australian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 236-257, 2011

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/06

37 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2012  

Judith Cashmore

The University of Sydney Law School

Patrick Parkinson

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: January 31, 2012

Abstract

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

Cashmore, Judith and Parkinson, Patrick, Parenting Arrangements for Young Children: Messages from Research (January 31, 2012). Australian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 236-257, 2011; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1995885

Judith Cashmore

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Patrick Parkinson (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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