A common time for parents to separate is when their child or children are very young. Many families seek help in setting up and managing contact arrangements but there is no uniform approach. We see through our work with  families that parents often struggle to determine how to best share the parenting of their young children. This can be extremely challenging for parents and children alike, particularly in situations where there is conflict, abuse and/or limited contact between parents.

To research this area and determine a best practice set of guidelines for parents and professionals, One Family commissioned a joint team from University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin  to research Guidance on Contact Time for Infants and Young Children in Separated Families. The research was conducted by Dr Simone Mc Caughren, Dr Stephanie Holt, Dr Aisling Parkes and Soma Gregory and was funded by the Late, Late Toy Show Appeal and Community Foundation of Ireland. The best practice guidelines were developed by One Family using the research findings.

The Research

The research consisted of an in-depth international literature review on the issue of contact for children aged 0-6 year olds in separated families; the distribution of an online survey for parents who have experience sharing parenting of infants and young children; two focus groups with professionals working in the area of family law, one with social care professionals and one with legal professionals; and six interviews with members of the Irish judiciary working in the area of family law.

Best Practice Guidelines

These guidelines are informed by the research carried out on One Family’s behalf by Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork and by One Family’s work with separated families.