Issue 67

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Family Matters No. 67, 2004

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Children's living arrangements after parental separation

In this edition of Family Matters we publish an article which describes the study’s development process, discusses the data that will be available to researchers from the first wave of data collection, and offers some pointers to the sorts of questions that can be addressed using the Growing Up in Australia dataset. Also in this issue, we feature a report of the official launch on 8 February 2004 of the first wave of Growing Up in Australia by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson, Minister for Family and Community Services.

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Editorial panel: Matthew Gray, Meredith Michie, Catherine Rosenbrock, Ann Sanson, Ruth Weston, Sarah Wise

Editor: Meredith Michie

Cover art: Galina Rumyantseva – born 1927 St Petersburg, Football 1965. Oil on board, 29 x 41.5cm. Private collection, Melbourne. Courtesy Bridget McDonnell Gallery, Carlton.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 67
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2004, 64 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Children's living arrangements after parental separation

Lixia Qu

Most children live with their mothers after parental separation, and little is known about those who live with their fathers. By using data from the study, 'Caring for Children after Separation', undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the author investigates changes in the residence arrangements of children. Looking at parents' reports of where children were living at separation and at the time of interview, this article explores the relevance of age and gender of children and the repartnering of parents as factors influencing residence choices.

The attitudes of separated mothers and fathers to 50/50 shared care

Bruce Smyth and Ruth Weston

The idea that children of separated parents should spend equal time with each parent has generated much debate both in Australia and overseas. But what do separated and divorced parents themselves think about 'equal time' parenting? This article makes use of recent data from the Institute's 'Caring for Children after Separation' project to address this question, and finds that parental attitudes vary along gender and residence status lines.

Legislating for shared parenting: The 'joint custody' inquiry makes recommendations for change

Catherine Caruana

After six months of inquiry, the House of Representatives Family and Community Affairs Standing Committee has released its report on child custody arrangements following separation. In this article the author summarises and comments on the Committee's report. Three recommendations for change in the report are: changes to the substantive law through the introduction of a legal presumption of equal 'parental responsibility' following separation, in contrast to the mooted presumption of a 50/50 time split for children; a restructuring of the family law system, with the recommendation that a non adversarial, multi disciplinary tribunal replace the Family Court in the adjudication of all but the most difficult of family law disputes; and a review of the Child Support Scheme.

Father-child contact after separation: Profiling five different patterns of care

Bruce Smyth, Catherine Caruana and Anna Ferro

Using data from the Institute's study, 'Caring for children after Separation', this article reports on the experiences and motivations of fathers with a range of different parenting arrangements. The following five different patterns of father-child contact are examined: 50/50 shared care; standard contact of every weekend or every other weekend; daytime only contact; holiday only contact; and little or no contact. The authors summarise some of the key insights to emerge from this research.

Relationships of children in stepfamilies with their non-resident fathers

Marjorie Smith

The number of children living in stepfamilies is increasing. Most of these children have another parent (usually the father) who is not resident in the household but with whom they have some contact. Children's views of the frequency of this contact, and the quality of father-child and other family relationships were explored in a recent study undertaken in the UK between 1998 and 2002. 'The Study of Stepchildren and Step-parenting', is reported on in this article.

Children's contact with grandparents after divorce

Neil Ferguson

The recent Australian parliamentary inquiry into 'joint custody' flagged the potentially important role that grandparents can play in the lives of their children and grandchildren. This article considers the Inquiry's recommendations in the light of current research in the UK. The author's qualitative study highlights the impact of pre separation grandparent-grandchild relations on post separation relationships, and suggests that reforms in this area should be mindful of the need to balance the interests of all family members while prioritising the child's best interests.

Child support policy in Australia: Back to basics?

Bruce Smyth

Consistent with its legislative responsibility to investigate factors affecting the well being of children and families. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has maintained an interest in the development and evaluation of Australia's Child Support Scheme. This article sets out some of the conceptual challenges that are likely to confront any legislative reform to overhaul the Scheme, as recommended by the recent parliamentary inquiry into child custody arrangements after parental separation, and argues that the values underlying the original establishment of the Scheme should be borne in mind when making recommendations for change.

Growing Up in Australia takes its first steps

Ann Sanson, Robert Johnstone, the LSAC Research Consortium and the FaCS LSAC Project Team

Growing Up in Australia is the longitudinal study of Australian children. It is a large scale and complex study, focusing on children's health, social and emotional development, early child care and educational experiences, family lives and community interactions. The study aims to provide a strong evidence base for policy and practice. This article describes the study's development process, discusses the data that will be available to researchers from the first wave of data collection, and offers some pointers to the sorts of questions that can be addressed using the Growing Up in Australia dataset.