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Children's and Parents' Perceptions of Children's Participation in Decision-Making After Parental Separation and Divorce

Family Court Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 91-104, 2008

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/48

28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2008  

Judith Cashmore

The University of Sydney Law School

Patrick Parkinson

The University of Sydney Law School

Abstract

Parents, and children ranging in age from 6 to 18 years who had been through parental separation, were interviewed concerning their views about children's involvement in the decisions concerning residence and contact arrangements. The great majority of both children and parents thought that children should have a say, although this was not reflected to the same extent in children's experiences. Older children in a number of families had considerable influence over the arrangements either in the aftermath of the separation or in making further changes over time. Both parents and children had a range of views about the general appropriateness and fairness of children being involved but children who had experienced violence, abuse or high levels of conflict were much more definite about their need to be heard than those in less problematic and non-contested matters. Parents involved in contested proceedings supported the participation of children at a younger age than those who were not. There was a reasonable degree of agreement between parents and children about the need for children to be acknowledged, and the value of their views being heard in the decision-making process. However, parents expressed concern about the pressure and manipulation that children can face and exert in this process, whereas children were generally more concerned about the fairness of the outcomes, and maintaining their relationships with their parents and siblings.

Keywords: Family law, Children, Participation, Separation, Divorce

JEL Classification: K10, K30, J12

Suggested Citation

Cashmore, Judith and Parkinson, Patrick, Children's and Parents' Perceptions of Children's Participation in Decision-Making After Parental Separation and Divorce. Family Court Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 91-104, 2008; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/48. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1128043

Judith Cashmore (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Patrick Parkinson

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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