Researchers are working on online tools to support parents during separation and divorce.

The period of separation and divorce is an undoubtedly stressful time in the life of a family.

It challenges parents, children, and the relationships with the wider family, and depending on how couples cope and deal with the issues that arise when they separate, children can be put at risk of developing emotional and behavioural problems, leading to poor academic achievement and ongoing relationship problems.

Researchers at the University of South Australia with colleagues at the Universities of Queensland and Western Australia are working to develop an online intervention, aimed at supporting parents during this transition.

Co-director of the study and Program Director for UniSA’s Graduate Certificate in Mediation, Dr Helen Stallman, says emotions that run high during marriage or relationship break-ups are not easy to calm or control.

“When their world feels tospy turvy and out of perspective, it is really important for families to have access to evidence-based information and preventative interventions,” Dr Stallman says.

“The aim of our study is to better understand the issues that parents have to deal with after divorce, and how parents and children cope at different times and in different ways across the period of separation and beyond.

“We also want to learn more about the relationship between family disruptions and personality development during early childhood.

“Ultimately our goal is to develop a range of helpful interventions for parents, who are likely to experience increased depression, anxiety and stress during a separation, so that they can better manage this challenging time and limit the impact of these feelings on their longer term well-being and those of their children.”

The team is encouraging parents to have input into the study by sharing what aspects they believe would be important for the program.

Participants will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires about their child and their parenting style.

Interested parents can access the online survey here.