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Research on Shared Parenting and the Effects of Divorce on Children

Research on Shared Parenting and the Effects of Divorce on Children



Research on the outcomes for children of separation and divorce have varied results, some pessimistic, some hopeful.
Rodgers B & Prior J (1998) Divorce and Separation: the outcomes for children, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York, England.
Wallerstein J S, Lewis J M, Blakeslee s (2000), The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: the 25 year landmark study, Hyperion, New York.
Hetherington E N & Kelly J 2002 for better or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, Norton & Co, New York.


Children adjust better to parental separation if they have flexible, frequent and supported time with both parents.
Pryor J and Rodgers B (2001) Children in changing families: life after parental separation. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Trinder L, Beek M and Connolly J (2002) Making Contact: how parents and children negotiate and experience contact after divorce. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Arendell T (1996) Coparenting: a review of the literature National center on Fathers and families, Philadelphia.

Benjamin M and irving H H (1989) Shared Parenting: critical review of the research literature Family and Conciliation Courts Review 27(2) 21-35.
Australian Institute of Family Studies (2003) Submission of the AIFS to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into Child Custody Arrangements in the Event of family Separation. AIFS, Melbourne.


The loss of a continuing parent-child relationship is the single most critical variable in the adjustment of a child to their parents' separation.
Stahl P M, A Review of Joint and Shared Parenting Literature, in Fohlberg J (ed) Joint Custody and Shared Parenting, 1984 Washington DC Bureau of National Affairs, Association of family & Conciliation Courts.
Wallerstein J and Kelly J (1980) Surviving the breakup how children and parents cope with divorce Grant McIntyre.
Amato P R (2001) Children of divorce in the 1990s: an update of the Amato and Keith 1991 meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology 15 (3) 355-370.
Kelly, Joan: Address to National Family Law Conference, Perth 2006.


As many as 80% of divorced children live in sole mother custody arrangements and as many as a third of children have little or no contact with their non-resident fathers.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (1998) Family Characteristics Survey 1997, Catalogue No 4442.0 ABS, Canberra. Office of National Statistics (UK), Population Trends 1987.
Bradshaw J, Stimson C, Williams J and Skinner C (1999) Absent Fathers London, Routledge.
Trinder L, Beek M and Connolly J (2002) Making Contact: how parents and children negotiate and experience contact after divorce. YPS in association with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, USA.


Fathers who have prolonged difficulty having contact with their children tend to withdraw from their children's lives. Many fathers for a variety of reasons do not continue contact with their children.
Lauman-Billings L and Emery RE (2000) Distress among young adults from divorced families. Journal of Family Psychology, 14 671 687.
Blankenhorn D (1995) Fatherless America: confronting our most urgent social problem Basic Books, New York.


Disengagement from families is bad for fathers' emotional health.
Kruk E (1993) Divorce and Disengagement: patterns of fatherhood within and beyond marriage. Fernwood Publications,
Halifax NS. Greif G (1995) When divorced fathers want no contact with their children: a preliminary analysis Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 23 (1/2) 75-84.


No single post-divorce arrangement is in the best interests of all children, because of the diversity of families and children's situations.
Lye D N (1999) The Washington State Parenting Plan Study: Report to the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and Domestic Relations Commission, Washington Courts, Washington State.
Mason M A (2000) The Custody Wars Basic Books, New York.
Ricci I Mom's House, Dad's House: making two homes for your child. Simon and Schuster, New York.
Wallerstein J S and Blakeslee S (2003) What About the Kids? Raising your children before, during and after divorce Hyperion, New York.


Parents with shared care arrangements are more likely to be satisfied.
Parkinson P and Smyth B (2003) When the Difference is Night and Day: some empirical insights into patterns of parent-child contact after separation. 8th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference.


More contact with a less-seen parent is associated with happier children, so joint parenting arrangements are likely to be better for children than sole-parenting ones.
Oberg B & G, (1985) , Den Delade Familjen, Stockholm. Kelly J (1988), Longer-term adjustment in children of divorce, Journal of family Psychology 2 (2) 119-140.
Bauserman R (2002), Child adjustment in joint custody versus sole-custody arrangements: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Family Psychology 2002, Vol 16 No 1, 91-102.
Amato P R and Gilbreth J G (1999) Nonresidential fathers and children's well-being: a meta-analysis Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 557-573.
Dunn J (2003) Contact and children's perspectives on parental relationships In A Bainham et al (eds) Children and their families: contact, rights and welfare. Oxford, Hart Publishing.


Fathers and mothers have different attitudes towards shared parenting after separation, and different levels of satisfaction.
Parkinson P and Smyth B (2003) When the difference is night and day: some empirical insights into patterns of parent-child contact after separation Paper presented at the 8th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne.
Smyth B, Sheehan G and Fehlberg B (2001) Patterns of Parenting After Divorce; a pre-Reform Act benchmark study Australian Journal of Family Law 15(2) 114-128.
Smyth B and Weston R (2004) Attitudes to 50/50 shared care in Australia Family Matters 63, 54-59.


Children in "joint custody" rather than sole-mother custody are more satisfied with their arrangements, and are better adjusted.
Kelly J (1988) Longer-term adjustment in children of divorce. Journal of family Psychology 2 (2) 119-140. Bauserman R (2002) Child Adjustment in Joint custody versus sole-custody arrangements : a meta-analytic review Journal of Family Psychology 16 (1) 91 102.
Grotzinger J B Dual household joint custody and adolescent separation-individuation, Dissertation for the Faculty of California Graduate Institute July 2002.


Quantity of time is relevant insofar as it is necessary to support quality. The nature and quality of parenting is crucial.
Funder K (1996) Remaking families AIFS : Melbourne.
Maccoby E E, Mnookin R H et al 1990 Private ordering revisited: what custodial arrangements are parents negotiating? In D Sugarman and H H Kay (eds) Divorce Reform at the Crossroads (pp 37 74) Yale University Press.
Wallerstein J and Blakeslee S (2003) What about the Kids? Hyperion books, New York.
Pryor J and Rogers B (2001) Children in changing families Blackwell, Oxford.
Smyth B, Caruana C and Ferro A (2003) Some when shows and whys of shared care: what separated parents who spend equal time with their children say about shared parenting. Australian Social Policy Conference 2003.
Pryor J and Rodgers B (2001) Children in changing families: life after parental separation. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.


High levels of contact with both parents are associated with low levels of conflict.
Smyth B, Caruana C & Ferro A (2004) Father-child contact after separation: profiling five different patterns of care. Family Matters No 67 Autumn 2004.


Fortnightly amusement-park parenting (the old 80 20% formula) contributes little to developing meaningful parent-child relationships.
Laumann-Billings L & Emery RE (2000), Distress among young adults from divorced families, Journal of Family Psychology, 14:671-687.
Ferro A (2004) "Standard" Contact in Parent-Child Contact and Post-Separation Arrangements AIFS Research Report No 9.


Weekend contact sidelines fathers to an onlooker role with near-total financial responsibility for the child.
Hillery A The Case for Joint Custody in The Best Parent is Both Parents, David L Levy (ed) 1993, Hampton Roads Publishing, Norfolk VA .
Roman M and Haddad W (1978) The Case for Joint Custody Psychology Today Sept, 196-105.


Children need time to do ordinary things with their less-seen parent, not just fun things.
Laumann-Billings L & Emery RE (2000), Distress among young adults from divorced families, Journal of Family Psychology, 14:671-687.
Burgess A & Russell G (2003) in Supporting Fathers: contributions from the International Fatherhood Summit, Oxford UK.


Care needs to be taken in involving children in separation planning.
Smart C (2002), From Children's shoes to Children's Voices, Family Court Review Vol40 No 3, July 2002, 307-319.
Kaltenborn K (2004) Parent-Child Contact after Divorce: the need to consider the child's perspective. Marriage and family review 36 (1) 67-90.


Education programs, mediation and counselling have been shown to be useful in assisting separated parents to develop the attitudes and abilities that enable them to become cooperative parents.
Kelly J B, Further Observations on Joint Custody, University of California Davis Law Review, Vol 16 762.


Conflict Resolution Programs have proved successful.
Neff R & Cooper K (2004), Parental conflict resolution, Six, Twelve and Fifteen Month Follow-ups of a High Conflict Program, Family Court review, Vol 42 No 1, Jn 2004, 99-114.
McKenzie B & Guberman I (2000), For the sake of the Children: a parent education program for separating and divorcing parents (Final Reports Phase 2), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba.
Bacon B L & McKenzie B (2004), Parent education After Separation/Divorce: impact of the level of parental conflict on outcomes, Family Court Review, Vol 42, No 1, Jan 2004, 85-98.


Fathers and mothers have different kinds of input to their children, both necessary.
Pruett M K, (2000), Fatherneed: why father care is as essential as mothercare for your child, Free Press New York.


Some mothers appear to discourage father time.
Fabricius W V & Hall J A (2000), Young adults perspectives on divorce: living arrangements, Family & Conciliation Courts Review Vol 38, 446-461.
Smart C, Neale and Wade A (2001) The changing experience of childhood: families and divorce. Cambridge, Polity Press.


Many studies show that most resident parents want their ex-partners to see the children more, not less.
Hunt J (2003) Researching Contact London: National Council for One-Parent Families.


Divorced parenting is better dealt with away from the adversarial system.
Zaidel S (2004), Taking Divorce out of the Context of Dispute Resolution, Family Court Review, Vol 42, no 4, October, 678-680.
Ricci I (1997) Mom's House, Dad's House: making two homes for your children, Simon & Schuster, New York. Luepnitz D A (1982) Child Custody: a study of families after divorce Lexington MA, Lexington Books.
Parents who have more time with their children pay more child support Australian Institute of Family Studies, Research report No 9, 2004, Bruce Smyth (ed).
Davis G and Wikely N (2002) National Survey of Child Support Agency Clients the relationship dimension. Family Law 32 July 522 527. Bradshaw J et alJ (1999) Absent Fathers London, Routledge.


Many Australian mothers find sole parenting a tough task and crave some respite from its demands, seeing part-time weekend parenting an easy ride compared to the hard yards mothers have to do.
Australian Institute of Family Studies, Research report No 9, 2004, Bruce Smyth (ed).


Continued inter-parental conflict is associated with the most negative consequences for children.
Non-resident fathers and children's well-being: a meta-analysis Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 557 573 Bauserman 2002 Child Adjustment in Joint custody versus sole-custody arrangements : a meta-analytic review Journal of Family Psychology 16 (1) 91 102 .
Lee M-Y (2002) A model of children's post-divorce behavioural adjustment in maternal and dual residence arrangements. Journal of Family Issues, 23 (5) 672 697.
Pryor J and Daly-Peoples R (2001) Adolescent attitudes toward living arrangements after divorce Child and Family Law Quarterly 13 (2) 197 208.
Amato P R and Rezac S J (1994) Contact with nonresidential parents, interparental conflict, and children's behaviour Journal of Family issues 15 (2), 191 207.
Reynolds J (ed) (2001) Not in front of the children? How conflict between parents affects children. One Plus One Marriage and Partnership Research, London.




Shared parenting can work well if it's child-focused, but not if it's adult-focused.
Neale B, Flowerdew J & Smart C (2003) Drifting Towards Shared Residence? Report from Centre for Research on Family, Kinship and Childhood (Leeds), Family Law, December 2003 904-908.
Irving H H and Benjamin M (1989) Shared Parenting: critical review of the research literature, Family and Conciliation Courts review 27 (2), 21 35.




The pre-separation relationship between father and child does not necessarily determine the post-separation relationship. Divorce changes relationships between fathers and children in particular. Separation can be the trigger for improved, changed parent-child relations.
Wallerstein J & Kelly J B (1980), Surviving the Breakup: how children and parents cope with divorce, Grant McIntyre.
Smyth B, Caruana C and Ferro A (2003) Some whens, hows and whys of shared care: what separated parents who spend equal time with their children say about shared parenting. Paper rpesented at the Australian Social Policy Conference, July, Sydney.


Overnight contact helps build and strengthen parent-child relationships.
Pruett M K, Ebling R & Isabella G (2004) Critical aspects of parenting Plans for Young Children: injecting data into the debate about overnights, Family Courts Review Vol 42, No 1, January, 35-59.
Warshak R (2000) Blanket restrictions: overnight contact between parents and young children Family and Conciliation Courts Review 39 (4) 365 371.


Even very young children can benefit from overnight stays with their other parent.
Kelly J B & Lamb M E (2000) Using child development research to make appropriate custody and access decisions for young children, Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 39, 297-311.
Lamb M E & Kelly J B (2001), Using the empirical literature to guide the development of parenting plans for young children, Family Court review, Vol 39, No 4, 365-371.
Warshak R (2000), Blanket restrictions: overnight contact between parents and young children, Family and Conciliation Courts Review, Vol 38, 422-445.


Children can cope with a certain amount of conflict.
Kell J B (2000), Children's adjustment in conflicted marriage and divorce: a decade review of research, Journal of American academy of Child & adolescent Psychiatry, 39:8 August.
Authoritative and engaged parenting creates emotional bonding between father and child, which contributes significantly to children's wellbeing.
Amato PR & Gilbreth JG (1999), Non-resident fathers and children's wellbeing: A meta-analysis, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61 557-573.


Parallel parenting plans can work for children of estranged parents. Richard Warshak, author of Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, estimates more than half of divorced parents sharing custody in the US follow this path.
Smyth B, Caruana C & Ferro A (2004) Father-child contact after separation: profiling five different patterns of care Family Matters No 67 Autumn 2004.
Ricci I (1997) Mom's House, Dad's House: making two homes for your children, Simon & Schuster, New York.
Furstenberg F F Jr and Cherlin A J (1991) Divided families: what happens to children when parents part. Cambridge. Mass: Harvard University Press.



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