Journal Article

Contact, Shared Parenting, and Violence: Children as Witnesses of Domestic Violence in Sweden

Maria Eriksson

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 25, issue 2, pages 165-183
Published in print August 2011 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebr004
Contact, Shared Parenting, and Violence: Children as Witnesses of Domestic Violence in Sweden

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As in many other countries in the West, Swedish policy and law presupposes shared parenting and a high degree of parental co-operation after separation or divorce. Parents are expected to share the legal responsibility for the child and face-to-face contact is presumed to be in the best interests of the child. It was not until the new millennium that intimate partner violence was placed upon the policy agenda to any greater extent in the field of family law. The legislation has recently been revised with the aim of ensuring a higher degree of safety for both abused parents and children. The re-definition of children exposed to violence as crime victims seems to be a key to these changes. In many ways, the development regarding intimate partner violence represents a significant change of direction in Swedish policy in the area of family law. However, it is argued that policy makers need to pay more attention to the implementation of safety-oriented reforms. The discussion demonstrates how three social positions available for children in this context – the witness, the victim, and the competent participant – form a relational pattern full of tensions that creates challenges for everyday professional practice. The article highlights how the ambiguity in the perspective on children, constructing them as both ‘becomings’ and ‘beings’ may undermine policy intentions to create a higher degree of safety in the field of family law for this particular group of vulnerable children.

Journal Article.  8078 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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