Journal Article

Legislating for Shared Time Parenting after Separation: A Research Review

Belinda Fehlberg, Bruce Smyth, Mavis Maclean and Ceridwen Roberts

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 318-337
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebr015
Legislating for Shared Time Parenting after Separation: A Research Review

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This article reviews research on post-separation shared time parenting and on outcomes of legislating to encourage shared time parenting, drawing mainly on Australian experience. The research shows that children benefit from continuing and regular contact with both parents when they cooperate, communicate, and have low levels of conflict. However, there is no empirical evidence showing a clear linear relationship between the amount of parenting time and better outcomes for children. Rather, positive outcomes have more to do with the characteristics of families who choose shared time and who can parent cooperatively and in a child-responsive way. In contrast, research post-2006 legislative change in Australia encouraging shared parenting suggests use of shared time by a less homogenous group, including a marked increase in shared time orders in judge-decided cases. This is of concern as emerging Australian research also suggests that shared care is more risky for children than other arrangements where there are safety concerns, high ongoing parental conflict, and for children younger than 4 years. Australian research also reveals widespread misunderstanding of the law, leading many fathers to believe that they have a right to shared time and many mothers to believe that they cannot raise issues relevant to children’s best interests, especially family violence. Overall, the research points to the complexity in legislating to encourage shared time parenting and shows that subtle changes can have important effects.

Journal Article.  7542 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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