Parents are cooperating more and paying parents are seeing more of their children, independent research from the Child Support Agency (CSA) reveals.
CSA General Manager, Matt Miller said while the research results demonstrate that recent family law and child support reforms were better balancing the needs of parents and children, more work is underway to support families at risk of violence or conflict.
The independent research, conducted by the Open Mind Research Group in August 2008, showed that more parents agreed that their relationship with their ex-partner is cooperative (49 per cent receiving parents and 51 per cent paying parents reported cooperative relationships, compared with 34 per cent for receiving parents and 40 per cent paying parents in February 2008).
Only 17 per cent of receiving parents and 14 per cent of paying parents surveyed said they were extremely unlikely to be able to liaise with their ex-partner in a businesslike way, which is significantly fewer compared to the previous wave of research conducted in early 2008 (37 per cent receiving parents and 31 per cent paying parents), Mr Miller said.
The August research also showed that 99 out of 300 paying parents surveyed said they had no night-time care of the children, and of those, 33 parents said they had no contact at all with their children, compared with the previous wave of research (121 paying parents having no night-time care, of which 74 had no contact at all).
This is significantly lower than previous tracking waves, with more parents having regular daytime contact since the reforms were introduced, Mr Miller said.
No paying parent surveyed said they did not want to care for their children, indicating these parents without contact may be experiencing high levels of family conflict.
Mr Miller said that International Womens Day was a timely reminder that conflict can affect peoples ability and interest to share parental responsibilities and see more of their children.
Unfortunately, some families experience high levels of conflict so the CSA is commencing a project to further improve referrals and support for parents who could benefit from counselling, support, mediation and assistance after separation.
The project includes supporting staff to ensure early identification and support for families experiencing violence, improved referral processes for high-risk parents, sharing information between the different parts of the family law system, and referrals for disputed care matters.
Appropriate referrals, and the right services and support at the right time, are often the key to prevention and early intervention, especially in times of high stress or vulnerability, Mr Miller said.
The CSA can refer separated parents to a large network of legal, government, community, financial and counselling services, and has a range of free self-help products for families.
Child Support customers who are at risk of violence or experiencing distress should ring the CSA on 131 272 because the CSA can provide information and advice in relation to their case, and link parents with Centrelink, Family Relationship Centres and other support services.
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