Shared parenting has been advocated to be a better arrangement for children than sole residence and access arrangements after parental separation. Although there is some research on this issue, studies have been restricted in their reliance on the reports of others. In this paper, we report on a study in Australia, in which children in each of these arrangements were compared with children in intact families on a range of adjustment measures and with each other in relation to their responses to their parents' separation, using both self- and parent-reporting. We found that there was little difference between children in the three family configurations, suggesting that shared parenting is not necessarily associated with better outcomes for the child. On other aspects of adjustment, the children in shared parenting and sole residence/access families did not differ. We also found that parents in all groups underestimated the emotional problems reported by children. In separated families, they also overestimated the children's desire for parents to re-unite. Finally, we found that parents in shared parenting families are more satisfied with their situation than are their children, and fathers are particularly so. The findings suggest that the promotion of shared parenting as the best post-separation family structure is contestable.
Field of Research
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology