A study of separated parents in Australia suggests that child contact arrangements are becoming more diverse. The findings point to a shift from traditional arrangements where a father would see their children every second weekend, to agreements with more paternal involvement.
The study of separated parents registered with the Australian Child Support Agency found that children generally move between parents’ houses two or four times a fortnight. The research also suggests that there is more sharing of parental responsibilities than has been evident in the past. For instance, there are now more 50/50 arrangements where children spend a week at a time with each parent.
Study leader Dr Bruce Smyth, of the Australian National University, said concern had been expressed about moving children between homeses too often. However, according to the report:
“The new data suggests that arrangements involving frequent moves between homes are not the norm. Fewer transitions help to limit children’s exposure to parental hostility at handovers and offers greater predictability for children, especially young children.”
Dr Smyth added:
“All parenting arrangements involve trade-offs, single long blocks of time with each parent require fewer transitions for children, but involve longer absences from one parent. By contrast, more fragmented schedules require more transitions for children but help to minimise the time away from each parent.”
He said creative arrangements can be effective in amicable situations:
“Most parenting arrangements can work well where parents get along, there’s some flexibility, and the arrangements are child-responsive.”