High-conflict parents pose many challenges for the courts? There has been much disagreement about whether both parents should continue contact or whether to award custody to one parent and try to reduce the conflict. Embedded is this dispute is the issue of parent alienation. Again a troublesome and controversial topic.
New research by Irwin Sandler and colleagues at Arizona State University provides some new insights into the factors that can guide decisions about parenting plans for high-conflict families. In general, there is much evidence to indicate that high quality parenting by both mothers and fathers reduces the likelihood that children in divorcing families will have psychological problems. The question posed by Sandler and colleagues is whether factors such as the amount of contact with parents, the amount of conflict and the parenting behavior of the other parent would change these typical findings. For example, for the child continuing to be engaged with both parents may reduce emotional and behavior problems, but if continued conflict also results in greater exposure to their parents’ conflict, then the costs may outweigh the benefits. Additionally, the scientists were interested in the how the amount of time each parent spent with the child and the impact this has on the child’s well-being.