Research

The effects of domestic violence on the relationship between women and their babies: beyond attachment theory. Fiona Buchanan, Finders University, 2012

‘Just Say Goodbye’: Parents who kill their children in the context of separation, D Kirkwood, 2012

A review of national and international research on ‘filicide’, where fathers and mothers have killed children following parental separation. The paper examines background and motives, and identifies a link between the killing of children and violence against women.

Working with risky fathers, Family Rights Group, 2011

Findings that child protection social work continues to focus on the mother to protect the child, even when she is a victim of domestic abuse, and even where the father has perpetrated domestic abuse, they are often in contact with their children, yet parenting assessments are rarely undertaken. 

'So presumably things have moved on from then?' The management of risk allegations in child contact dispute resolution, L Trinder, A Firth and C Jenks, 2010

Findings that family court professionals fail to explore, assess or manage allegations of domestic violence, sexual abuse and impaired parenting through alcohol and drug dependency during court based dispute resolution sessions in nearly 70% of cases. Allegations were made either by the mother or, in 2 cases, by both parents.

The authors recognise that marginalisation of domestic violence is a systematic issue with increasing emphasis on settlement and contact.

Australian studies cast doubts on the benefits of shared care, August 2010

Evidence that children aged under four and school aged children could be put at risk developmentally through shared parenting arrangements following separation.

Infants struggle in shared care, July 2010

Another summary of the same research - shared care has a negative impact on very young children and recommendation is given that in these cases shared care arrangements should not normally be the starting point for discussions. 

Seeking congruence, bringing language to experiences of maternal alienation and gender violence, Anne Morris, 2010

The significance of language in the perpetration of gender violence, with particular reference to materanl alienation, by which perpetrators use a variety of strategies to cause long term alienation between mothers and their children.

No Way to Live-women’s experiences of family law and domestic violence, L Laing, 2010, Australia

Highlights the inadequacies of family courts to recognise the true nature of abuse and protect women and children. Specific concerns include scepticism about women’s allegations of violence and abuse, poor or non-existent risk assessment, lack of specialist knowledge about trauma, and an emphasis on fathering regardless of its quality. 

Shared care parenting arrangements since the 2006 Family Law Reforms, Cashmore et al, 2010

Research funded by the Australian Government, considering the implications for Australia's 2006 family law reforms on Shared Care Parenting, and the circumstances under which shared care does and does not work.

There is not a straightforward linear relationship between the amount of time that children spend with both parents and children‘s well being, because there are so many other factors involved. 

Care arrangements which are negotiated between parents, as opposed to those which are imposed by court, are associated with higher levels of wellbeing for children. Much of the success of shared care derives from factors other than the care arrangement itself, and in particular, higher levels of cooperation and joint decision-making and a lower incidence of reported violence or safety concerns. 

Many shared care arrangements do not last, with care often reverting to the mother. 

Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 1

Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 2

Bagshaw et al, 2010

Noted a strong link between reported domestic violence and child abuse and significant gender differences in experiences of abuse. 

Women reported physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, social (isolating the victim), financial and oppressive control of many aspects of their lives, with ‘changeover’ times providing opportunities for further violence. Men did not report continuing violence after separation to the same extent, nor fear of their ex partner or fears for their children’s safety, or feelings of powerlessness in the same way. Instead, men were more concerned about obstructions to access to their children and false allegations of family violence and saw these as expressions of violence.

There were major criticisms about the way family violence was addressed in mediation, with parents being coerced to agree arrangements that were unsafe or inadequate for their children.

Gendered dynamics of abuse and violence in families: considering the abusive household gender regime, Anne Morris, 2009

Presents the concept of an 'abusive household gender regime', rather than considering child abuse and woman abuse as separate issues. Based on research on maternal alienation, the undermining and destroying of the mother/ child relationship by abusive fathers.

Fathers' Rights Groups: Demographic Correlates and Impact on Custody Policy, Leora N. Rosen, Molly Dragiewicz and Jennifer C. Gibbs, 2009

The implications of fathers’ rights activism for abused women and their children.

Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms, Kaspiew et al, 2009,

Large scale research funded by the Australian Government. Found a presumption of shared care after parents separate increases domestic violence and gender economic inequality, and meets mainly fathers' needs. 

Not Having it All: How Motherhood Reduces Women’s Pay and Employment Prospects, Jessica Woodroffe, 2009, Fawcett Society, Oxfam

How motherhood causes lasting damage to women’s earning capacity. 

Men become richer after divorce, Stephen Jenkins, 2009

Male incomes rise by a third after a split, while women are worse off and can struggle for years.

Protecting a childs emotional development when parents divorce Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D. New Beginnings, a publication of La Leche League International, 1994 now on line 2009  

Research that shows that the disturbance of a child’s emotional attachment to a primary caregiver (almost always the mother) in the first six years of life can create problems in childhood, adolescence, and adult life. 

Implacably Hostile or Appropriately Protective?: Women Managing Child Contact in the Context of Domestic Violence, Christine Harrison, 2008

Women’s perspectives to demonstrate how family court proceedings and welfare practices marginalise violence and expose women and children to further abuse, showing how ‘contact now constitutes a significant site for continuing violence’. 

Outcomes of applications to court for contact orders after parental separation or divorce, J Hunt and A MacLeod, Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, Ministry of Justice, 2008

Findings that non-resident parents (mainly fathers) were mainly successful in getting the type and amount of contact they wanted, even though most resident parents (mainly mothers) who objected to contact raised serious welfare concerns.

Criminal Rewards: The Impact of Parent Alienation Syndrome on Families, Andraé L. Brown, 2008

How allegations of PAS are used in the US as a legal tactic to win custody for fathers with a documented history of domestic violence and child abuse.

Domestic Violence, Safety and Family Proceedings, HMICA, 2005

Many women and children now live with the consequences of poor practice in Cafcass’s handling cases of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey S Walby and J Allen, 2004, Home Office Research

Thorough and well respected research, looking at the incidence and impact of domestic violence on women and men. Shows women experience more severe and more frequent abuse, and are more likely to live in fear. The research concludes that ‘the context of fear is an important element in the understanding of domestic violence as a pattern of coercive control’.

The Experiences of Children and Protective Parents, Alison Hay, 2003

The majority of the children involved in this study felt Court Experts were of no assistance in looking after their best interests. The research found that the right to feel safe, and the protective parent’s role, were removed by Court Orders. There follows a consideration of what is helpful in developing a Family Court system that is responsive to children’s needs, and avoids exposing them to abuse.


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