Experts agree when either or both parents have been violent through physical, verbal, or psychological abuse of the other parent, a comprehensive assessment is necessary before a shared parenting plan is considered.
Such violence can be destructive to a parents’ ability to raise their children with the sensitivity and structure that would promote family safety and wellbeing.
Moreover, family violence negatively affects children’s wellbeing directly and a child’s chance of healthy development is diminished when if a child is directly involved in the conflict.
Research from Australia has found that where mothers report safety concerns, child wellbeing is lower regardless of the care arrangement, but that this is worse for children in shared time arrangements. it is important to recognize that both mothers and fathers can cause concern for safety.
Moreover, in cases of violence, extra concern should be taken as the cooperation inherent in shared parenting arrangements creates numerous opportunities for the perpetrator to continue patterns of manipulation, violence, and control on the other parent. (Pruett & DiFonzo)
Smyth, Mcintosh, Emery & Howarth suggest that the following aspects should be considered when assessing not only physical safety but also emotional security of a shared parenting arrangement:
- each parent’s current capacity to keep the child physically safe
- each parent’s established caregiving relationship with the child is one in which the child finds adequate comfort and support
- the parenting arrangement neither exposes the child to violent, threatening behaviors by one or both parents nor perpetuates fear within either parent
- the parenting arrangement protects the child from witnessing or being drawn into intense interparental conflict, hostile levels of contempt, extreme levels of unresolved anger or grief, and/or dysfunctional communication
Relationships Scotland makes the following recommendations for those who are concerned about safety:
If you have concerns about your own safety, the following organisations may be able to help:
Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 027 1234
Galop Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Domestic Violence charity
Shakti Women’s Aid helps black minority ethnic women, children and young people
Scottish Families affected by Alcohol and Drugs
- If you have concerns about your own safety, or the safety of your children, because of violence or abuse, alcohol or substance misuse, or other issues, professional advice and help is recommended.
- If you or your child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away.
- You can get advice and support from your local Social Work Department.
If you have concerns about your children’s safety, the following organisations may be able to help:
ChildLine 0800 1111
Parentline 08000 28 22 23
The Hideout a website to help children and young people understand domestic abuse