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CAFCASS: Productive Conflict Management Research and the Impetus for Change

Date:13 OCT 2006

Brian Kirby, Service and Development Manager, CAFCASS. The author says two prime messages emerging from the maelstrom of conflicted divorce and separation require an intelligent response. First, children frequently carry awful burdens of responsibility, guilt and helplessness and above all want the fighting to stop. Secondly, research shows that if we really want to help these children, just focusing on sharing out their time between parents and carers is largely unhelpful. For children to thrive, they need a reasonable quality of co-operative parenting and care and the freedom to enjoy relationships with those important to them. Only attending to contact quantum is as illogical and risky as a teenager measuring the value of an 'internet friend' by counting the number of words exchanged with them in a chat program. For some time studies have clearly made the point that it is the quality not the quantity of contact that is associated with children's well-being (Amato and Gilbreth 'Non-resident fathers and children's well-being: a meta-analysis', Journal of Marriage & the Family, [1999] Vol 61 No 3). See November [2006] Fam Law for the full article.

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