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  • Children from split families want equal time share
  • By Danielle Teutsch
  • The Age
  • 21/12/2003 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 74 articles in 2003 )
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'Not a day goes by when I don't think about them'
Confusion aside, dads embrace their caring side

Children of split families would prefer to divide their time equally between their divorced parents, a study has found.

The findings come just before the much-anticipated report of a parliamentary inquiry into child custody arrangements is released on December 29.

The inquiry has spent six months looking at whether shared parenting should be the norm after divorce, and has been the subject of bitter debate among politicians, judges and lobby groups.

The Sydney University study, Adolescents' Views on the Fairness of Parenting and Financial Arrangements After Separation, by Judy Cashmore, Patrick Parkinson and Judi Single from the faculty of law, adds weight to Prime Minister John Howard's view that children are better off spending equal time with both parents after divorce.

Mr Howard added fuel to the debate at the beginning of the inquiry by supporting the 50-50 care model, to the delight of men's groups and the chagrin of women's groups.

The study is one of the first in Australia to look at how children feel about spending time with their parents, and money matters. The survey included 60 teenagers aged 12 to 19.

When they were asked how parents should care for children after divorce, the most common answer was "equal" or "half and half". Half also said they wanted more time with their non-residential parents.

Professor Parkinson said the results were striking. "It suggests that adolescents are willing to move between homes, at least in principle," he said.

Professor Parkinson said the research suggested the 1970s custody model in which children saw one parent "every second weekend and school holidays" was outdated.

The study showed teenagers wanted to be consulted about where they lived after their parents' divorce and the more they had a say in their living arrangements, the happier they were likely to be.

It also found children had an acute sense of fairness in money matters. They did not like it if one parent appeared to have a better standard of living, or if the children from another relationship received bigger Christmas presents, for example.

The authors do not support Mr Howard's bid to reform family law so that there is a "rebuttable presumption" of shared parenting, saying that care arrangements needed to be worked out individually.

However, Ms Cashmore, a child psychologist, said Australia was slowly rethinking divorce, so custody was not seen as ownership and fathers did not feel like the losers. She said the important message of the study was that children's views should be taken into account after a divorce.

https://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/20/1071868697398.html



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