Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shared Parenting - Looking at Australia and Canada

I have discussed shared custody in Indiana (see Shared Parenting - My View and Another's and More Thoughts on Shared Custody) and now let us expand the view.  

Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog published Does Shared Parenting require a 50/50 Split of Time? An Australian perspective.

But the provisions about equal time did not reflect what most expert researchers believed was important for children.

"What seems to matter most to children, and what seems most important for their healthy development, has more to do with what happens when they are with each parents, and in particular whether they feel loved and cared for," Professor Chisholm said.

"The idea of equal time makes a lot of sense in terms of adult entitlement.

"As far as I can tell, it does not reflect what research scholars believe is important for children's development."

He urged academics to do more research into the benefits of shared parenting, particularly in cases where parents are in conflict, saying: "We need to know much more about the nature of conflict, the extent to which children are being exposed to it, and the extent to which parents and the courts might be treating the legislation as requiring some form of shared parenting, even when it is damaging to the children."
Men News Daily looks at Canada with Opposition to Equally Shared Parenting Bill in Canada Never Explains What’s so Great about the Current System:
Some of that is principled concern about things like the practicalities of shared parenting.  Would a six-month-old have to be shuttled weekly between households?  Some people truly don't understand what a presumption of equally shared parenting means.  If it would require courts to give equal access to violent, abusive or neglectful parents, they're understandably against it.  Of course it would do no such thing, but plenty of perfectly well-intended people may not yet understand that.

So part of the opposition to a presumption of equally shared parenting is understandable.  Proponents need to do a better job of educating people about what equally shared parenting is and what it's not. 
A legal presumption is a rule of procedure for judges to follow.  All it means is that if neither side to a dispute produces evidence against the presumption, the judge is obligated to follow the presumption.
Which brings me to a point I've raised before in discussing Australia's backtracking on equally shared parenting after less than three years.  If people want to speak out against shared parenting, fine.  But when they do, they should invariably be required to explain why, if equally shared parenting is so bad, the current system is preferable.  The current system is awful, but if they don't propose an alternative, that's what they're arguing for when they oppose equal parenting. 
People who oppose equally shared parenting need to fill us in on why it's OK, given all we know about the value of fathers to children, to separate the two.  We know from mountains of social science accumulated by a vast array of researchers in countless different ways, in many different cultures, that children with actively-involved fathers do better than those without.  We know that children, mothers, fathers and society generally benefit from father invovlement with children.


Anonymous said...

As an Australian mother who has spent the last 3 1/2 years co-parenting i believe/know that it can work. HOWEVER, it does require a lot of hard work and a healthy level of communication. Managing your children's activities, routines, boundaries, behaviour etc can be hard enough to do when they only live in one house. Doing this across two homes with the other parent when communication is good can be difficult and when emotions are high, extremely difficult! More support and resources are required to help parents to work out how to parent effectively together - yet apart.

Sam Hasler said...

Thank you! Now that is a wonderful comment: giving us here the good and the bad.

Let me say, I think everywhere there are not resources for family law issues.