Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Demands for equal treatment between divorced parents may not be fair for the children


As thousands of divorced and separated parents decide where their children will spend this Christmas, an ESRC-funded study into post divorce family life shows that fairness and equality between fathers and mothers may end up being unfair on the youngsters.

The Fathers 4 Justice movement, whose ‘Xmas Demo’ takes place on Saturday (December 18), is among those calling for family law to adopt a principle of pure equality between parents. Its members, with support from Bob Geldof, and organisations such as the Equal Parenting Council, demand that on divorce or separation, children should be shared equally.

But research by Dr. Bren Neale and Dr. Jennifer Flowerdew, of the University of Leeds, shows that children who spend an equal amount of time in two homes are not necessarily better off than those with one. Dr Neale said: “The principle of parental equality fails to take into account how young people experience these arrangements. Where shared residence is built on rivalry or, even worse, ‘war’ between the parents, then children can be considerably worse off than those living in one place.”

According to the study, children may become pawns in their parents’ disputes and endure a running battle that they carry with them between the two homes. Dr Neale added: “They may also suffer from a ‘surfeit’ of parenting: they may find themselves ‘trapped’ by the demands of over-needy or over-controlling parents, that prevent them from gradually taking charge of their own time and space as they grow up.”

Changing a shared homes arrangement can be hard for young people. If shared residence is justified on the grounds that it is ‘fair’, then any attempt to alter it is seen as ‘unfair’. It can become so entrenched that young people find it hard to escape, even after they have left home to go to college or university.

Instead of simplistic notions of equality, what is needed is a flexible approach that is respectful of young people and responsive to their changing needs as they grow up, the research says.

The study team carried out follow up interviews with 60 children and young people who had been interviewed three to four years previously. They found that young people can thrive under a variety of contact and residence arrangements, depending on how these are handled and how far children are respected by their parents.

Shared residence can work well when based on good quality relationships, where it is flexible and if parents are prepared to ‘let go’ of their children as they grow towards independence. It is less successful when rigidly enforced and designed to meet the needs of the parents rather than the children. Christmas is, of course, a time, which reflects and symbolises the quality of family life. These are comments from young people in the study:

“One year I’ll spend Christmas with my Mum and New Year with my Dad, and the next it will be the other way around. But my Dad dropped in on Christmas Day - dropped into my Mum’s. They didn’t use to, but they’ve started getting on a bit better, so he sort of drops in and has a glass of champagne or something.”

“My Dad is quite jealous so he gets upset if he doesn’t have equal, or more than equal of the time spent with my mother. He is a fiercely kind of, involved father. I remember a few years ago before coming to university, I met my fiancé and he came up and lived with me while I was still at home. So he went back and forth with me, which was mad really (laughing). Even now I’ve left home, I still have to try and balance it. Christmas is a nightmare. If I see Mum I have to see Dad. Even now, it is really ugh. I would recommend that the kids stay in one house and the parents move in and out. (laughing)..I think that’s fairer!”

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>