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Shared parenting: messages from research Professor Liz Trinder, Exeter University.

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Presentation on theme: "Shared parenting: messages from research Professor Liz Trinder, Exeter University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Shared parenting: messages from research Professor Liz Trinder, Exeter University

2 1.Context – why ‘shared care’ now? 2.Current legal position 3.Key research messages 4.2 pros and 6 cons of a presumption 5.Moving forward n.b SR/SC = 35%-65% time allocations, including 50/50

3 1. Why now? Active campaigning from fathers groups, internationally Equality discourse Backdrop of (slowly) changing roles of fathers

4 2. Current legal position Child’s welfare as the paramount consideration (CA89, s1(1)) Contact presumption in practice, not statute Courts traditionally reluctant to make SROs in high conflict cases Though now SROs not ‘exceptional’ (Re W (SRO) [2009] EWCA Civ 370). Australia – statutory ‘equal PR’ and ‘substantial time’ presumption E&W private members bill (June/July)

5 3. Research: Who likes it? Fathersco-operativeconflicted/rigid Mothersco-operative  Childrenco-operative [flexible, child- centred, feel at home, have a say] 

6 3. Research: Child wellbeing

7 Community (non-court): no difference in child wellbeing by type of arrangement [note reporter] Poorer outcomes for shared care with:  fear/concerns (community)  rigid sustained arrangements, esp boys (mediated/litigated)  <3 years old with 1 night weekly, 3-4 years with SC (community) Sustained rigid SC – more conflict, no greater father emotional availability four years on (mediated/litigated)

8 “children entering rigid forms of sharing, usually via court-imposed pathways, had a troubled trajectory to begin with, and carried different burdens, of which unresponsive and unwanted care arrangements became yet another”. (Jenn McIntosh et al, 2010:76).

9 4. SC presumption – FOR 1.High rates of satisfaction for SC fathers, whether high or low conflict 2.Perception of fairness and equality (for fathers?)

10 4. SC presumption – AGAINST 1.SC - works well for a relatively small and distinctive group with specific material and relationship equipment (who don’t need a presumption) 2.Works poorly for risk, conflict and <4s 3.Shared care paradox – massive expansion in the ‘wrong’ families: Australia community SC steady at c8-12% 3% to 33% of litigated cases post-presumption 4.Time presumption trumps welfare paramountcy, in practice 5.Children’s wishes and feelings downgraded further 6.Addressing risk even harder

11 5. Ways forward We know what works for children (and adults) and we ignore it Quality of parenting/relationships unquestionably the key protective factor for children Quantum is not. What can we do to help parents focus on children’s needs, build a parental alliance? Dispute resolution + psycho- educational and therapeutic interventions + child voice/support

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