Supporting healthy relationships among separating and separated parents: A practical guide

Legacy Content

This project or publication was produced before or during the merger of What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).

This practical guide for local authorities has been developed to improve understanding of how separation and parental conflict can impact on children’s outcomes, what evidence-based support can be offered to separating and separated parents, how to assess progress for these families, and how to effectively engage with them.

Official statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions
estimated that in March 2020 there were 3.6 million children in separated families.

Although conflict often precedes and contributes to parents’ decision to separate, sometimes separation can cause new conflict, as parents might fight over financial support, contact, and living arrangements. There is a strong body of evidence suggesting that when parental conflict is frequent, intense, and poorly resolved, it can put children’s mental health and long-term outcomes at risk.

This guide is intended to provide practical advice to local authorities taking part in the national Reducing Parental Conflict programme and with an interest in improving their understanding, local offer and evaluation in relation to separating and separated parents. The guide includes:

  • An overview of the research evidence of the impact of separation and parental conflict on child outcomes, and of the risk factors that can increase the risk of parental conflict and separation.
  • A section showing how research evidence can be put into practice to inform your local strategy.
  • A summary of evidence-based healthy relationship and parenting interventions that can be used with separating and separated parents.
  • A summary of measurement tools that can be used to measure parental conflict and co-parenting with separating and separated parents.
  • A summary of recommendations on how to engage separating and separated parents that have been developed in consultation with local authorities.



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