Thursday, December 6, 2012

Debates on Shared Parenting and Research

I have plans to do a series of blogs about shared parenting  but in the meantime there has been some debate sparked off by the publication  in November of the Nuffield study “Taking a longer view of contact: perspectives of young adults who experienced parental separation”.  This research  looks at how the contact arrangements made by separating parents for their children affect children’s long-term relationships with their parents throughout their childhood and then into adulthood.

Initial reaction to the summary  from Lucy Reed of Pink Tape was that the authors were perhaps leaving themselves open to accusations of having an agenda  and the child's experience would be drowned out by the noise that follows. Karen Woodall of the Centre for Separated Families  said "the ‘lens’ through which this study has been undertaken is clearly that which is informed by the feminist hostility towards fathers and their relationship with their children." 

In the Researching Reform  post Nuffield's Foundation Latest Research on Shared Parenting Legislation Natasha Phillips makes the point there are always two  sides. The controversy is over the validity of the viewpoint of young adults of separated parents  who experienced contact arrangements in childhood. After the research coming  under fire from fathers' groups  and others many have jumped on the bandwagon and not looked before they leaped.   The next post Question It? asks "does the use of childhood memories and their interpretation by young adults who experience these memories make the research less valuable?" In the third post Shared Parenting: A Presumptuous Proposition  Natasha argues a presumption of shared parenting is a presumption too far and the family justice system doesn't need more law. 

The main aim of my blog is signposting and I would encourage readers to read the research  and debates for themselves without wearing rose-tinted glasses before making up their own minds.  For what it is worth I think  research based on peoples' accounts of events and open to interpretation should be treated   with caution. Nonetheless this type of study does give a voice to people who  would otherwise not be heard which is a good thing  and leads to further investigation.  

[As well as author of Researching Reform  Natasha Phillips is a consultant for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law  and The Court of Protection and author of  Divorce Manual. The link takes you to an interview with me in 2009 and it's interesting reading back that I was complaining about the lack of specialist family courts in Scotland which are now on the cards!]  


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