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SP workshop London


Bruce Smyth

on 8 April 2017

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Transcript of SP workshop London

Shared-time parenting after separation: Lessons from Australia?
Bruce Smyth, Bryan Rodgers & Richard Chisholm
Shared time in Australia: Setting the scene

Gradual rise over past two decades
Big legislative & policy push in 2006
Expand relationship support services
Expand research/monitoring
But JPC plateau from 2006

Central argument
Relationship support services matter.
Also important to have independent program of law reform evaluation (links b/w policymakers & research?)

Law reform alone insufficient for good outcomes.

Recent data
Family law changes of 2006
Reflect convergence of several mutually-reinforcing factors at a particular historical moment in Australia:
Ongoing steady increase in women's participation in labour force (tag-team parenting)
Greater acceptance of importance of role of fatherhood (active fathering)
Growing appreciation that children generally benefit from involvement of both parents
Divorce law 'leans in the direction of JPC'
Greater enforcement of child support
Fathers' groups highly organized & active
PM worried about 'father absence'
The challenges...

In 2003, Argys et al wrote: 'current data do not yet provide a consistent or clear picture of either the quantity or quality of interactions between children and their non-residential parents".

In 2010, Fabricius et al: new measures of the amount of parenting time needed

Others: need more comprehensive measures that account for qual and quant ways of sharing the care of children

Dimensions of parenting time
Total amount of time (or % of time)
Frequency of parent–child contact
Duration of each parenting time period
Number, nature and timing of transitions
Structure (eg., day-time only, holiday-only)
Nature/type (face-to-face vs other)
Setting (home, contact centre, etc)
Degree of flexibility
Regularity / Predictability
Continuity (stop-start; change over time)
Quality (shallow/superficial vs deep)

Differ among siblings; changes with children's needs and parents' circumstances

NB. Mathematization of time vs experience of time

Levels of measurement

Any contact
'Little/none' vs 'Some' vs 'A lot'
Any overnights
Amount (nights or time; % vs no. of nights)
Traditional (EOW)
No contact
Qual data
Residential calendar (parent, child)
Research gaps...

Frequency, nature & timing of children's transitions between homes, and the impact of moves on children's wellbeing
Continuities & change in arrangements
Siblings' experience of shared-time
High-conflict shared-time family
Shared-time and money (child support, property division, family tax benefit)
Shared-time and repartnering (incl step-sibling care)
Equal vs unequal shared-time - different groups and outcomes?

International workshop, King's College, London
11-12 July 2016
Shared-Parenting Amendments

Federal laws - exercised by 'family courts' (FCoA, FCoWA, FCC) - twin pillars
2003 inquiry: rebuttal presumption of 'equal time'?
presumption of equal shared parental responsibility --> need to consider 'equal time' or else 'substantial & significant time'
Confusion (here for my 50/50)

Changes to legal processes

Mandatory mediation [S60I] - with exceptions (safety, urgency)
Less Adversarial Trials [LAT]
Creation & expansion of services

65 Family Relationship Centres
Family Relationships (telephone) Advice Line
Govt fund child-focused and child-inclusive mediation (Children in Focus)
Family Law Pathways Networks

Changes to child support

3 stages: 2006-08
New formula (incl shared parenting time adjustment)
Resources given to Child Support Agency for greater enforcement
By 2009, concern parental involvement given primacy over safety --> safety given primacy in further amendments.

Similar readjustment in US:
"A few states do lean in the direction of joint custody, but the more they lean, the more other rules seem to counteract their effects .... The most significant development in custody law in the past five to ten years is an increasing legal protection for parents and their children from domestic violence" (Bartlett 2002)
Dimensions of interest
Attitudes to shared-time arrangements
Policy knowledge
Link with parental responsibilities
Parents' reasons; involvement in decision-making
Definition / operationaliz'n (% vs no; nights vs time; =/un=)
Prevalence (point in time; time series) [11-22, 33-45%]
Demography / correlates (child age, SES, repartnering, etc)
Family dynamics (r/ship qual; comm'n; safety; viol)
Child & parent satisfaction/experiences/views (parent / child)
Child & parent wellbeing (parent reports; child reports)
Structure of arrangements/mobility (eg., no of transitions)
Durability of arrangements, and trajectories
Developmental considerations (v young, teens)
Money (tax benefits; child support; property)
Legal process (voluntary vs court order)
Law reform / policy / practice
Key datasets (primary data)
Dept of Human Services [Child Support Agency] – customised tables
Family Court of Australia – customised tables

Australian Bureau of Statistics Family Characteristics Survey: Time series – National random sample of hh
Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia [HILDA 2001-]: Longitudinal (14 waves)– National random sample of hh
Longitudinal Study of Australian Children [LSAC 2004]: Longitudinal (6 waves)– National random sample of children [0, 2 yrs]
AIFS Longitudinal Study of Separated Families [LSSF 2008]: Longitudinal (3 waves)– National random sample of CSA cases
AIFS Survey of Recently Separated Parents [SRSP 2012]: X-sectional – National random sample of CSA cases
AIFS Family Pathways: Adolescent Study [2009]: X-sectional – National random sample of CSA cases (12-18 yr olds)
AIFS Caring for Children after Separation: Mixed methods – National random sample of separated parent

ANU Child Support Reform Study [CSRS 2008]: Longitudinal (3 waves) – National random sample of CSA cases (pre-/post)
UNSW/AIFS/U Syd Shared parenting study: x-sectional – National random sample of CSA cases + LSAC & HILDA
Uni of Melb Shared Parenting and Property Division: Quali-tudinal – Purposive sample of Victorian sep parents
La Trobe Uni/Family Transitions Children in Focus: Purposive sample of Victorian sep parents in mediation

Christina Sadowski (2015) PhD: Children’s descriptions of their shared time parenting arrangements – Qual
Akiva Quinn (2011) M.Phil: Moral attitudes towards shared parenting among separated parents – Qual
Jenni Neoh (2010) PhD: Shared parenting: adding children's voices and their measures of adjustment to the evaluation – Survey
Linda Sweet (2010) PhD: 'Breastfeeding throughout legal separation: Women’s experiences of the Aust family law system' – Qual
Carol Lacroix (2006): Gender processes & presumptions of shared care & responsibility after parental separation – Qual

Measuring parenting time
Some quick snapshots...
Some of the big questions...
What term? (JPC, shared parenting, dual res)
How define and operationalize?
How common is it?
How do practitioners deal with it?
How do courts deal with it?
How do policy makers / legislators deal with it?
What effect on child wellbeing?

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Source: Nikolina, N. (2015) Divided Parents, Shared Children: Legal aspects of (Residential) Co-parenting in England, the Netherlands & Belgium. intersentia

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