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Measurement Pathway for Reducing Parental Conflict

Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership

Please ensure that you have considered whether there is evidence of domestic abuse before using the tools in this section:

  • Evidence of fear from one partner towards the other
  • A power imbalance between the couple/ evidence of coercive controlling behaviour

If you’re unsure…

  • Complete a DASH risk assessment (guidance included in form)
  • For high-risk domestic abuse DASH scores (14+ or professional judgement) refer to MARAC.
  • Seek advice from your manager/safeguarding lead if in doubt.

Reducing Parental Conflict Toolkit

The following evidence-based tools are specially designed for practitioners to assist them with specific indicators of parental conflict and can be used to contribute towards formal assessments and identifying the appropriate support offer to families.

NB: The tool names in this section (parent problem, acrimony) are not the language we would recommend using however the tools themselves are extremely helpful to assist practitioners to ask the right questions around parental relationships and gain an understanding into the needs of the family. You could refer to these tools as “Relationship Assessment Tools” or something similar.

The Measurement Pathway flowchart (click image to enlarge or download) depicts the order in which the tools should be used and the action to take depending on the score of each tool.

If you need any assistance with using these tools, please contact

Flowchart Template.pdf

Step 1:

2 assessment tool options (DAS-6 or BACS-8 below)

Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS-6)

The Dyadic Adjustment Scale developed by Spanier (1976), featured 32 questions that would provide practitioners with an insight into a couple’s relationship and allow for the identification of factors that may be causing distress. Over the years there have been additional version created that have been based off the original assessment’s questions. These include the DAS-14 developed by Busby et al. (1995) and the DAS-4 developed by Sabourin, 2005.

The DAS-6 aims to provide a screening tool for practitioners to quickly assess relationship distress and conflict. It achieves this through use of the 4 relationship satisfaction questions from the DAS-4 and the two conflict questions from the DAS-14.

You may decide to use this tool when you are concerned about the overall relationship quality of parents especially if there appears to be evidence of parental conflict. If parents are separated and in conflict you should consider using the BACS -8 (above) instead.

Guidance on how to use the tool

DAS-6 tool

DAS-6 tool (electronic version)

Brief Acrimony Scale (BACS 8) for separated parents:

The Parental Acrimony Scale (Emery, 1982) measures the levels of Acrimony (emotional hostility) between separated parents on a range of issues. This tool was condensed and refined by (Rahimullah, 2020) into a shortened screening tool.

Screening should be completed by both sets of parents individually and can help you as a practitioner determine the levels of acrimony from both parents, this will help in determining whether there is awareness of an issue from both parents.

Guidance on how to use the tool

Brief Acrimony Scale for Separated Parents Tool

Brief Acrimony Scale for Separated Parents Tool (electronic version)

Brief Acrimony Scale Matrix (for repeated progress measures)

Step 2:

For both the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS-6) and the Brief Acrimony Scale (BACS-8) check the total score on the tool. A score of 20 or above on the DAS-6 tool (couples together) or a score of 21 or above for the BACS-8 (separated couples) indicates relationship distress and will require the next tool (the Parent Problem Checklist -PPC) to be completed.

If the score falls below 20 or 21 respectively, the agency completing the tool can either focus on the areas identified within the tool completed or can monitor the family. Where an agency plans to close the family to the service, it is recommended as part of an exit strategy, that an agency who can monitor the family is identified and make appropriate referrals for support if required.


Step 3:

If the score for the DAS-6 or BACS-8 are above 20/21 respectively then The Parent Problem Checklist (PPC) should be completed.

The Parent Problem Checklist (PPC) developed by Dadds & Powell (1991) is designed to assess the levels of conflict between parents on multiple coparenting issues. This tool can be used with intact or separated couples and can be used in situations where extended family may play a role in coparenting i.e grandparents. You may decide to use this tool in situations where you believe the underlying cause of conflict is related to coparenting.

Parent Problem Checklist Guidance

Parent Problem Checklist 

Parent Problem Checklist (electronic version)

Parent Problem Matrix (for repeated progress measures)


The PPC will provide you with two scores;

  • The “Problem Score” – This indicates the number of coparenting issues. It is expected that couples will not always agree on parenting approaches and to reflect this the cut off point for problematic conflict has been set at
  • The Extent Score- This indicates the impact that the parent believes the issue is having an impact between them and their partner. There are no official cut offs for this score but this can help inform your professional judgment in terms of suitable interventions to use with the family.

Depending on the “problem” and extent score alongside your professional judgement, practitioners can determine whether specialist parental conflict work (score 6+ or professional judgement) is required, or parenting work is more appropriate.

Step 4:

This tool can be completed with children and young people aged 9 years and over as part of wider assessment work to gather the views of the child/young person to inform the assessment and support plan.

The Children’s Perception of Interparental Conflict Scale examines the views of children aged 9-17 years, regarding parental conflict. The assessment should be completed alone with the child with parental consent. The tool provides information about the child’s views regarding in the following areas:

  • Frequency of conflict (Higher score indicates higher frequency)
  • Intensity of conflict (Higher score indicates higher intensity)
  • Resolution (Higher score indicates poorly resolved conflict)
  • Content (Higher score indicates the child is a significant feature of the conflict)
  • Triangulation (Higher scores indicate the child is drawn into conflict between parents)

The tool will automatically calculate the score for you.

Children’s Perception of Interparental Conflict Tool Guidance

Children’s Perception of Interparental Conflict Tool

Statement cut outs for children

Guidance and Toolkit created by Devon Children’s Social Care