Are Parents with Shared Residence Happier? Children’s Postdivorce Residence Arrangements and Parents’ Life Satisfaction
Source: Stockholm Research Reports in Demography 2015: 17
Franciëlla van der Heijden, Utrecht University
Michael Gähler, SOFI, Stockholm University
Juho Härkönen, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University
This study investigates whether shared residence parents experience higher life satisfaction than sole and nonresident parents, and whether frequent visitation is similarly related to parents’ life satisfaction as shared residence. Regression analyses on data from 4,175 recently divorced parents show that shared residence parents report higher life satisfaction than other, particularly nonresident, parents, but that this relationship can largely be explained by benefits and opportunity costs of parenthood. Shared residence fathers enjoy a better relationship with their child and their ex-partner and are more engaged in leisure activities than nonresident fathers. Shared residence mothers are more involved in leisure activities, employment, and romantic relationships than sole resident mothers. These differences contribute to the shared residence parents’ higher life satisfaction. Frequent interaction between the nonresident father and the child could partly, but not completely, substitute for shared residence, increasing both nonresident fathers’ and sole mothers’ life satisfaction.
Keywords: Divorce, Joint physical custody, Life satisfaction, Living arrangements, Parents, Shared residence, Subjective well-being
Download the full report: http://www.suda.su.se/SRRD/SRRD_2015_17.pdf
The Gay lobby Express has hit the metaphoric buffers. An ethical schism now exists for which they had not planned. The heat of the kitchen has hit home for homosexuals over matters the rest of us regard as mundane, if not unalterable. How will they cope ? If they are successful, will we ride in on their coat tails ? Will it yet prove a glimmer of hope ?
Finally, the same ethical dilemmas eternally faced by heterosexual couples regarding the conception and of child care have struck home in the homosexual community.
Though it is unclear at present if all wings of the LGBT feel the same way  a rupture was predictable and inevitable after so many years of presenting a united (if not slightly fraudulent), front to parliament and the public (see graph below and Annex 1).
You might recall that in the parliamentary debates advocating gay unions its was stated that 10% of the UK population was gay and as such even visiting their partner in hospital was denied as they were not ‘family’(see Annex 2). In the event K. Wellings et al 1994 assessment of 2% was confirmed by the ONS more than ten years after the passage of the Civil Partnership Act, i.e. the ONS also put the figure at 2% or less  (see also Annex 3).
The present eruption within the homosexual community surrounds the news that music star Elton John has reacted angrily to comments by haute couture designers Dolce & Gabbana. In a magazine interview Dolce & Gabbana, made it clear that they viewed conception using IVF as artificial (which technically it is).
But they went further adding that they believe the only birth should be a traditional, natural birth. Reportedly in their interview with “TheBlaze”, Dolce said:
- “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.”
Dolce added; “I am gay, I cannot have a child. I guess you cannot have everything in life” and you can see his point. “Synthetic children” is perhaps too blunt a description but essentially it is true however it too could have been better finessed.
We all have to forego some things in life and realise as we mature that some of our adolescent ambitions will never be fulfilled and will lie forever dormant. Government has long promoted ‘responsible parenting’ and favoured a two parent arrangement (man and wife) even in the Blair era and even after separation.
Yet the ‘vox pop’ / straw poll reaction that television carries seems to be that if two men love each other enough and get married then the next thing they automatically want (and are in line for) is a family. But even for heterosexual couples a family is not guaranteed, hence the invention and adoption of IVF treatment for infertile couples. This is probably more a result of the ‘drip, drip effect’ (the effect of 30 years of social engineering), on the lower orders than any cultured or consider opinion by them.
Nevertheless it underlines that this area has long been a polarising trigger – a minefield – in society and now the LGBT have unconsciously strayed into that same minefield.
Heterosexual couples are under constant threat of losing their human ‘right’ option to cohabit on their own terms (with cohabiting couples likely to be treated as if spouses), while the homosexual community retains full rights to cohabit, have a civil union, or marry). No cohabiting homosexual couple will ever be threatened with being treated ‘as if married’ and lose much of their assets as looks likely for heterosexual couples. 
Even during the decade long debates – and there have been innumerable ones on TV and in parliament – the vocal minority of reformers have drowned out the homosexual majority who have no intention of wanting a partnership, or a marriage certificate, or the right to adopt children, or to become parents.
A national survey by ONS found that just over 45% of the gay community were cohabiting, and of the 1.5% only 8% of them lived in a household with at least one child present (see Annex 1).
How we got to this point owes a lot to the silent ‘social engineering’ warfare that has been an undeclared war against a blissfully unaware public. It is also the result of a long-term plan which involved the interplay of people (some with murky pasts) and an interweaving of questionable events. Such is the complexity – involving well-known figures – that there is only space for an elementary outline in Annex 4).
For a societal sub-set that is accustomed to seeing all things as black and white and other people’s opinions as totally either for or totally against them, this is new territory. So it is hardly surprising that Elton John responded to the Dolce & Gabbana comments by saying:
- “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic”. And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.”
Sadly, ethical questions do not fall conveniently or comfortably into categories of either absolute saintliness or absolute wickedness. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and it is entirely reasonable to argue that this spat will, or could, result in a reappraisal of the roles of fathers and men in children’s lives. Something heterosexual father groups have being trying to get onto the public Agenda for many decades.
One wonders what the late Freddie Mercury, who was much beloved by both straight and gay alike, would have made of this spat ?
We have, since 1969, lost the value of stigma as a means of controlling aspects of society and in the same stampede have outlawed the ability to be judgmental which we all daily operate, whether we like it or not. Without some form of judgmentalism we become just an irrelevant lump of clay to be moulded into any shape by whoever is running society. Yet at the same time we are asked to be ‘liberal’ and ‘tolerant’ in all our views – but the moment we question liberalism or deviate from blanket tolerance a very illiberal and intolerant odium from officialdom descends upon us. 
Yes, in part Elton John is right, IVF has allowed many loving couples to fulfil their dream of having children – but most of those legions are straight and very few are gay. The process was always intended to serve heterosexual couples, not homosexuals who have simply commandeered it under an interpretation of Human Rights legislation (in much the same was as ‘the Pill’ was intended for married women to regulate family size – not for young single girls to engage in ‘recreational sex’).
Legislation since 2000 has overtly favoured the homosexual lobby and more than a decade on it is now (officially) recognised that a deal was done between Labour politicians in the mid 1990s and the LGBT lobby, e.g. Stonewall. 
By the late-1990s it was suspected by some that such a deal had been cut (with so many Gays in Blair’s cabinet it was the only rationale), but it has since been confirmed that in the years prior to the Labour government of 1997 it agreed to pass pro-LGBT legislation and legitimise homosexual practices and aims.  & .
One of those aims was to be seen as part of the ‘mainstream’; to be accepted as ‘normal.’ This was as process that began with declassification of homosexuality in the 1970s as a deviancy, aberration, or mental illness. This gave rise to misgivings among heterosexuals that they and their value systems were quietly under attack – and in part, though they were kept in the dark, they were proved right. 
For 10 years or more the seemingly ridiculous idea of 2 men being able to marry one another has been allowed to colonise our minds. During that process, time has allowed it to become less repugnant to a point where it is seen as an undeclared Human Right. It is at this juncture that life suddenly gets interesting. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of same-sex liaisons what was absolutely irrefutable was that custody disputes were historically seen as a straight-forward male/female issues for heterosexuals.
Scant regard was ever paid to “gender equality” save in its acceptance as a n ignored principle but since 2004 heterosexual couples no longer have the monopoly of custody battles. Battle will now be joined by homosexual couples who break up (and they break up at an alarming rate  (see Annex 5 and ‘Married but for all the wrong reasons.’ http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/39/ ).
Being regarded as ‘normal’ and with sexual/gender equality overtones is something of an aberration in matrimonial terms (or should the word be ambiguous or incongruent?). Society has given special rights and protections to those people who enter into this covenant. There are prohibitions and penalties for having sexual intercourse with near relatives and outside the union. But same-sex unions cannot be dissolved because of any such infidelity (‘adultery’) by one of the parties. Is this then a marriage or a tax avoidance fig leaf ? (See Annex 6).
Gender Equality, as an issue, was (to translate it into plain English), a cause taken up by ‘women activists’ to keep mothers (i.e. women) in the welfare benefits driving seat and to always keep custody within their jurisdiction (and thus out of the hands of fathers).
For ‘women activists’ read ‘radical feminists and left wingers such as Patricia Hewitt MP and Harriet Harman MP (see both their careers as legal and equality ministries at Annex 4) who took things a little too far perhaps.
Left: Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt, as they looked in the 1970s.
For ‘women activists’ read ‘radical feminists and left wingers such as Patricia Hewitt MP and Harriet Harman MP (see both their careers as legal and equality ministries at Annex 4) who took things a little too far perhaps. For them, and others in the Labour party in the 1970s, Gender Equality was seen as unlimited in scope. For example, in the 1997 election Hewitt praised lone parents of Leicester as ‘the heroes and heroines of my constituency [who] will be the heroes and heroines of the new Britain.’
Thus in the pursuit of this ‘new Britain’ they embraced, a wondrous array of what some might today call unhealthy ideas or fetishes – and none more so than paedophilia – with which both women were finally revealed as inextricably involved by national newspaper coverage in Feb & March 2014 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paedophile_Information_Exchange ).
Silver lining ?
The question now will be how will this IVF matter be resolved for divorcing Gays ? Female homosexuals i.e. lesbians will argue over who is “mother” (not such a big deal there), while male homosexuals will have to argue the same but in front of courts which never give custody to a man.Will courts return the child to the egg donor ?
This is most unlikely. So courts will have to face up to awarding custody to a man and in the process will force a breaking of the mould for heterosexual fathers (or at least, one hopes that will be the path). 
Not only might heterosexual fathers who want to spend more time with their children (and who are presently prevented due to biased Gender Equality mantras) gain in this way from the impact homosexual ‘rights’ but it might even extend to forced adoption – should it ever arise in Gay relationships – over which heterosexual men have no influence.
Currently married or not, a father has little or no control over Social Workers’ decisions to abduct and permanently adopt a child (although society is slowly waking up to just scary and how scarring this is for both children and parents).
In the cases where Gay couples adopt a child further sanity can be envisaged. Their lobbying power within Whitehall, and government generally, will ensure forced adoption is unlikely and this benefit may trickle down to heterosexual fathers.
Rising negative sentiments towards homosexuality peaked in 1987, the year before ‘Clause 28’ legislation was enacted. At the time the British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS), found that 75% of the population held that ‘homosexual activity’ was ‘always or mostly wrong’ (and only 11% believed it to be never wrong).
In 2007 a similar BSAS poll found that 61% of Conservative and 67% of Labour voters believed homosexual activity to be ‘always or mostly wrong’. By 2012, those figures stood at 28% and 47% respectively. Were these changes due to a more liberal stance adopted by the general public, or the product of re-education (which used to be called propaganda) ?
Whatever the cause, after the roll call of pro-homosexual legislation churned out almost annually on the Blair years an air of quiet resignation to the inevitable seems to have settled on with the general public (see Annex 7). They were not being listened to, so why expend any more energy on a cause the government had clearly made its mind up about ? It was time to move on to other battles and more important things.
Law of the unintended
Political hay was made when Teresa May cited an illegal immigrant who allegedly avoided deportation by the courts because he now had a ‘pet cat’ (BBC, 4 October 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15160326 ). Whatever its truth it tapped into an unvocalised resentment, a sense of helplessness – plus a dislike in some quarters of the Establishment of the Human Rights Act.
Other stories followed including one published in the Daily Mail (16th April 2014) concerning another illegal immigrant, now aged 29, who had stabbed a 15-year-old schoolboy to death in 2001, less than a year after arriving in Britain. He could not then be deported because of his claim to be ‘gay’, and that if he were sent back to Jamaica he could face ‘degrading treatment’ for being homosexual that would breach his human rights. He was identified in court only as “JR” (to protect his anonymity ?). He was sent to jail in 2002 but was released in 2012 and is free to walk streets.
When change is made there is usually both good and the not-so-good that arise from it. Whatever one’s position on human rights, equality, diversity, etc, etc, society usually accommodates it, absorbs it, and gets on with its own life. In this case there is a faint possibility that further down the track that the changes made to accommodate homosexual demands might actually one day benefit desperately needed reform for heterosexual fathers.
Other changes to the social landscape will take time to be fully adopted and paternity leave for fathers is a prime candidate where the effects have yet to be worked through. An article appeared in ‘Children & Young People Now’ with the headline that “Only half of fathers take full paternity leave” (20 October 2009). http://www.cypnow.co.uk/bulletins/Daily-Bulletin/news/946912/?DCMP=EMC-DailyBulletin . We may well se that the gay community will accelerate the acceptance of paternity leave (paid or unpaid) for fathers.
This leads on to the questions surrounding employment and income for both straight and gay couples and between lesbians and gay couples. Differences based on gender between lesbians and homosexual men can be seen in literature on employment and income, e.g. Miles 200).
An analysis done by Blandford (2003), of the 1989 – 96 General Social Survey data indicated that both gender and sexual orientation had a bearing on earnings. The analysis reveals that, whilst gay men had a 30% –32% income disadvantage when compared to heterosexual peers, lesbians and bi-sexual women actually enjoyed an earnings advantage of 17% – 23%.
Another recent study of the incomes of same-sex cohabiting couples using Census data in the UK found gay men in this type of household earned 1% less than men living in equivalent heterosexual couples; but lesbian couples earned 35% more than women in heterosexual couples (Arabsheibani et al 2006).”
This, as Ivor Catt and I have explained many times over, is due to the propensity of commentators to unconsciously compare oranges with apples. Lesbians and homosexual men are for the main part single wage earners. As such they should only be compared with single men and single women. Earnings between single men and women have been at a parity long before the Equal Pay Acts (see Gilder and Amneus). It is only the married man who excels at wage generation (i.e. wealth creation). To compare single men and women (straight or gay) with married men is the oranges with apples analogy. Further, incomes of married women have always been lower than those of single men and women (straight or gay) and this has influenced the supposed “gender pay gap.”
This same 30% –32% alleged gap can be seen in Patricia Hewitt’s IPPR pamphlet “Social Justice, Children and Families” (pub. IPPR, 1993, page v), and, as mentioned before, in work by Gilder and Amneus.
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How many people in Britain are gay, i.e. homosexual ?
For a long time the homosexual community fiercely decried the figure that they numbered only 2% in society as a woeful underestimate and questioned its validity. The figure came from a 1994 study by K Wellings et al., entitled ‘Sexual Behaviour in Britain’, (pub’d Penguin, see p.183).
This disbelief (of the 2%) was boosted by government estimates produced by the Treasury (circa 2004) for the anticipated of loss of ‘tax take’ from Inheritance Tax should same-sex marriage be legalised (it took until 2011 before the true figures were released – see below).
‘Gay Britain: inside the ONS statistics’,
Guardian, Sept 23rd 2011,
In the past the tabloid press used a Treasury estimate (used in its planning for the Civil Partnership Act 2004), which assessed the figure to be between 5% to 7% – although the British crime survey had put it much lower 2.2%.
The Office for National Statistics published in 2011 the most comprehensive breakdown on the question. It survey 247,623.people across Britain – dwarfing even the mighty British crime survey, which ‘only’ asks 22,995 people.
Based on the ONS’ Integrated Household Survey the questioning involved showing people a card of options and asking them to indicate which category they fitted into. The ONS is highly confident of the technique and reliability of this method.
Extrapolated nationally, they suggest a population of 726,000 gay, lesbian or bisexual people in the UK which can be summarised in this way:
- Gay people are much more likely to be in managerial or professional occupations – 49% compared with 30% for straight workers
- Gay people are marginally better educated, with 38% holding a degree.
- Their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population, with 66% under the age of 44 and 17% aged 16 to 24.
- Just over 45% of the gay community are cohabiting, although only 8% live in a household with at least one child present.
- A third of bisexual households include at least one child
- London is home to the highest concentration of gay people at 2.2% of the population, while this proportion falls to 0.9% in Northern Ireland
Parliamentary debates and advocating the number in the gay community
In the parliamentary debates advocating Gay unions (and in the press) it was frequently stated that 10% or more of the UK population was ‘gay’.
In the name of rectifying a series of injustices and human rights it was often cited that gay partners had no basic rights in the most mundane of activities. For example, this on Oct 12th 2004 from Chris Bryant MP :
- “ . . . . . When I was curate in High Wycombe, I used to visit patients in the local hospital It was not uncommon to meet people who had been prevented by the parents of their partner even from visiting the person whom they loved and had lived with for many years.” – Hansard, Column 226 
In many respects the arguments used in Britain followed those of the 1997 Australian format during the debate on AMENDMENT (SEXUALITY DISCRIMINATION) BILL (Sept 17 1997).
- “ . . . . Of equal importance are the problems the partners of gay and lesbian people face. For example, access to their partners in hospitals when they are ill. In many situations, hospitals will not afford next of kin status to a same-sex partner, thus denying them visiting rights or the right to be consulted when making medical decisions. – See http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/hansard/hans35.nsf/c02fad1ff7f00ecbc82572e4002d0af9/f339f3227253a3d2482565fd00131195?OpenDocument&Click=
The BBC has conveniently listed most of the injustices that homosexual see as impairing their status from that of ‘normal’ people. The legal and technical flaws to the points made are enclosed in brackets:
- Inheritance tax – unlike couples within marriage, gay and lesbian partners currently pay up to 40% inheritance tax when inheriting from a partner. [NB However, if granted there would be no tax relief or taper for divorced parents (fathers) who wanted their children to inherit the same amount of assets. This would discriminate against one class of men. One avoidance measure for both categories is to set up a Trust – Ed].
- Rights on children – currently gay and lesbian partners do not find it easy to gain parental responsibility for each other’s children. [NB This is not unique to Gays. Many heterosexual fathers far from gaining ‘parental responsibility’ are actually legally shut out – Ed].
- Pension rights – under occupational schemes, heterosexuals can benefit from their dead spouses pensions. Though rights are enjoyed by gay and lesbian couples in some company schemes, many are excluded [NB Most UK pension schemes automatically guarantee payment for, say, 10 years payable to a named person after the recipient dies. So it’s a moot point – Ed].
- Next of kin – currently gay and lesbian partners do not have recognised rights as next of kin to authorise hospital treatment or to make funeral arrangements. [NB This is more true in its breach than in its application. Where it still existed only an amendment to internal regulations would be needed – Ed].
- Relationship breakdown – currently, gay and lesbian partners have weaker rights on things like shared homes where relationships break down [NB. This would indicate that they had been let down by the legal profession since shared homes are common among heterosexuals (e.g. shared ownership) who take the proper precautions – Ed].
- Benefit rights – gay and lesbian couples are currently assessed individually for state benefits. The bill will lead to joint assessment in some areas. It will also give gays and lesbians eligibility to survivor pensions and, where relevant, bereavement benefits [NB Benefits paid to 2 individual claimants are invariably greater than those paid to a married couple e.g. state pensions. Gays would lose some incomes as they would no longer be assessed as ‘living apart together’ (LAT) – Ed].
Source: “Legal rights currently denied homosexual couples” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/3996035.stm
ONS also put the figure at 2% or less
Civil Partnership Act 2004 legitimised unions between same-sex couples – these are sometimes referred to as civil unions or same-sex unions.
Much, if not all of the reform introduced to accommodate homosexual wishes, was premised on the assumption – indeed, the claim – that homosexuals and lesbians comprised at least 10% of the British population. Indeed, ‘Stonewall’s’ Ben Summerskill put the figure at 20% in 1999 and the media especially left leaning newspapers, e.g. the ‘Observer’, often repeated the 20% figure well after 2005.
Politicians were for several decades under the psychological cosh not only of powerful national newspapers that were able to set agendas and massage reactions but also lobby groups such as Stonewall who were able to marshal street marches and protests.
Finally, in 2010 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) became involved in the collection of data about homosexual numbers. But far from 20% they found that only 1.5% of the population considered themselves gay or lesbian (i.e. 480,000) and 245,000 (0.5%) considered themselves bi-sexual. (Ref: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11398629). A further 0.5% self-identified as “other”, and 3% responded as “do not know” or refused to answer.
It is surprising that all major political parties should find so attractive the combined voter Bloc for gays and lesbian (0.5 million) when it falls far short of the 1.6 million divorced fathers. See also http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/39/
Social engineering today is a universally, well-understood term and tool for altering public perceptions but 20, or even 30, years ago it was a dark art and virtually unknown to the public (and one could liken it to a silent, black propaganda).
Re-engineering social values has, since its inception in the early 1980s, been in the hands of a select few. Gender Equality is one obvious candidate of this agenda which has enjoyed the quiet support of the powerful and influential.
Both Patricia Hewitt MP and Harriet Harman MP are household names from their terms in Blair’s Labour government. But there is a linkage between these and other politicians with not only the repugnant Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) but also the Angry Brigade terrorist group of the 1970s which blew up cabinet minister’s houses, e.g. Robert Carr. Angela Mason (aka Angela Weir) was one of those Angry Brigade linkages.
The Blair government saw the creation of the Women Unit (aka Minister for Women and Equalities) and Angela Mason was, from 2003 to 2007, its director with a salary unprecedented in those days of £80,000 pa.  Before and after these dates it is on the public records that she advised government Depts on equality, i.e. gay and lesbian, matters.
After her trial for terrorism for which she was surprisingly found not guilty The Observer records that Angela Mason worked “as a lawyer for Camden Council in London”, yet her degrees are listed as History with a master’s degree in Sociology. Her only listed Law Degree is an honorary one given her in 2007 by Royal Holloway College – a college where Betsy Stanko who advises the Met Police on DV, is an Honorary Professor of Criminology (Prof Stanko claims to have created “the novel project on hate crime” yet this is merely, like her, an American import ).
Wheels within wheels ?
Judges and politicians should be seen to be beyond reproach but a look at the catalogue of ministers in that era questions the wisdom of appointing Angela Mason – and by whom ? 
All of the above and listed in the Table (right) could be described as radical feminists and/or left-wingers and all blocked attempts to gain parity for men and fathers. But this is to exclude other key players who were equally effective in their own right. If we take just one, Baroness Scotland, she worked at the Lord Chancellor’s Department (now the Justice Dept) from 2001-03; and in the Home Office from 2003-07; and was the Attorney General from 2007-10. As such she was able, and did, block any funding applications from voluntary fathers groups or alter custody laws in their favour, or recognise that annually 30% of all DV victims were in fact male (black and white).
The backgrounds of former minister Margaret Hodge MP also bears scrutiny. She was Islington’s council leader from 1982 to 1992 (adjacent to Camden – where Angela Mason worked); and was made Minister for Children in 2003. Islington council’s trendy liberal attitude and ‘equal opportunities’ rules, allowed employees who declared themselves ‘gay’ to be exempted from intrusive background checks which could have prevented paedophiles from working in its children’s homes. 
Left: Margaret Hodge MP
Yet when at Islington she ignored warnings that a paedophile network had been sexually abusing vulnerable children in every one of the council’s children’s homes since the 1970s. When proven in court, in Nov 2003, her public response was:
- “ . . . All that happened when we didn’t really understand child abuse in the way that we understand it now. This was the early 90s … It was only beginning to emerge that paedophiles were working with children, in children’s homes and elsewhere, . . .. “
Yet, as we know from Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman, paedophilia as a life style choice was well-known to exist in liberal and left-leaning circles and to have had (so it is alleged) government funding. 
Any sense of dishonour and impropriety failed to cross her mind and despite a prolonged public outcry she, the daughter of a multi-millionaire, did not stand down and instead 2003 saw her appointed by Blair as Britain’s first ‘Children’s Minister.’
As such she set up, in 2004, the National Children’s Database, known officially as ContactPoint. This government database held intrusive information on all children in England under the age of 18. ContactPoint (NCD) was intended to improve child protection by recording information about children and shared it between hundreds of Social Services Depts. (inc. 150 local authorities, and it was accessible by at least 330,000 users). The threat of it being “hacked” lead it to be referred to unofficially as the Meat Rack, as it was feared paedophiles could use it to select their next targets. The whole system was scrapped by a new Gov’t in 2010 after having cost cost £224m to set up, and £41m a year to run.
Another radicalised ‘direct action’ advocate was Peter Hain, who later became an MP and government minister. He faced trial in 1972 for Criminal Conspiracy as the Young Liberal Leader (stemming from his anti-apartheid stance and actions) and was found guilty. Apparently in 1972 a letter bomb was sent to him (it failed to explode because of faulty wiring). And puzzlingly he was then put on trial in 1974 for a bank robbery but was acquitted.  He has claimed that it was a ‘frame-up’ by the South African Bureau of State Security (BOSS) but the main witnesses were 3 schoolboys (! ?).
Some of today’s front bench politicians were directly and/or indirectly involved in radical groups and participated in or fermented unrest and violence at that time. Not just Peter Hain but Jack Straw MP, both former Blair Ministers but also Kim Howells MP (also a minister of state), and Lord Triesman, who started life as plain David Triesman are easily traceable.
Kim Howells is a former student radical and Communist union official who later converted to Blairism. In that role he found himself defending Britain’s intelligence services more unreservedly than the head of MI5.
As for Lord Triesman (aka David Triesman), he was once a radical left-wing student leader. After breaking up a meeting addressed by a defence industry scientist he was suspended from Essex University in 1968 for his radicalism and anti-establishment actions. He resigned from the Labour Party and like Howells joined the Communist Party in 1970 (later rejoining the Labour party in 1977).
Right: Now moving in loftier circles, Lord Triesman (left) with Prince William, future King of England.
It was his Essex University activities where he rubbed shoulders with anarchists and brought him into contact with Anna Mendleson and Hilary Creek – the only women of the Angry Brigade to actually be convicted. Later, while on his path to becoming General Secretary of the Labour Party he helped organise street rioting during his salad days. And in true turncoat style he became General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers from 1993 to 2001. From 2008 (until 2010) he was chairman of both the FA and Britain’s bid to host the 2018 Olympic.
The desire to be seen as normal and absorbed into the mainstream of society is a two-edged sword. Homosexual couples who break up will now have to battle, as do heterosexuals, with lawyers costs, loss of income, confiscation of assets and fights over custody.
Although “Pink News” (22nd Feb 2006) puts a gloss on matters relating to the level of matrimony, absent is any mention of divorce and separation.
- “In total 3,648 couples formed civil partnerships in England & Wales between 21 Dec 2005 and 31 Jan 2006. Male partnerships are more popular (2,150 ceremonies) than women’s (1,138). – “Three and a half thousand English gay couples tie the knot”. Pink News, 22 Feb 2006.
(See also 1. ‘Married but for all the wrong reasons’, http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/39/ , 2. “Same-sex marriages – Canada’s hidden data” https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/43/ , and 3. “Gay Marriage & Unions – an Inter-European Comparison” https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/41/ ).
- “Some 6,385 Civil Partnerships were conducted in Britain in 2010, 49% were men.” More women than men having civil partnerships”, Pink News. 7 July 2011.
Between those two dates 2006 and 2011 the number of civil dissolutions (i.e. divorces) rose year by year (see ONS Table for 2007 – 10, right).
More recent data for the whole of the UK is for some reason not available from the ONS (see Table below). We might speculate it would show a continuing rise in the number of gay divorces. So with no new data forthcoming a gap exists post-2011 and so in light of this an extrapolation has been made (see graph below for 2007 – 13 marked ‘Predicted’ years).
Fortunately, some data for the missing years has been found via a Freedom of Information request and the graph above has incorporated the additional year of data. Under “Number of civil partnership dissolutions in England and Wales 2010 – 2012” it shows the following:  Information from this FoI request has been added for 2012 and is shown in Yellow. However caution must be exercised as one total (711) is the for UK as a whole and one (provisionally 794) for only England & Wales. If this is later confirmed then the Total UK including Scotland and Ulster will exceed 794.
The same URL (see Footnote) also reveals the number of deaths (widowships) in the longer period of 2007 to 2012, see below:
Finally, there has been a noticeable swing or surplantation in Gay marriages / unions with an increasing number of lesbian unions. This trend is also echoed in the number of lesbian dissolutions from 28 to 461 in 2011 (see Table above). It would appear that after the initial fillip of being able to exercise their legal and equality rights homosexual men have retrenched from formal unions. It would also appear that the Christian Institute’s prediction of inherent instability in same-sex relationships (7th May 2002) might be borne out.
The rate at which lesbian unions fall apart, i.e. through lesbian dissolutions, will be important to watch as they are, on balance, more likely to acquire children during the liaison or to already have children from a previous (perhaps heterosexual) marriage.
Sweden has been ahead of many countries in civil partnerships, so although the following information from “Gay Marriage Statistics” is now somewhat dated it is not obsolete, and it does indicate what the rest of Europe can expect as it catches up.
- “Gay men were 50% more likely to divorce within eight years and lesbian couples 167% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples. In the Netherlands, between April 2001, when gay marriage was legalised, and December 2003 there were 5,751 gay marriages and 63 divorces.”
According to a report of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (IMAPP) and again based on data from around 2004, divorce rates among same-sex couples are confirmed as very high:
- “Gay male couples were 50% more likely to divorce within an 8-year period than were heterosexuals. Lesbian couples were 167% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples. According to statistics released by the Dutch Government in 2005, the divorce rate of gay and lesbians couples in the Netherlands is nearly identical to that of heterosexual couples.”
But perhaps more significantly for the future IMAPP reports:
- “Even among childless households, same-sex male partnerships experienced almost a 50% higher likelihood (1.49 times as likely) of divorce during the study period, while childless lesbian couples were three times as likely (200% higher likelihood) to break up as a married couple without children.”
The authors of this study on short-term same-sex registered partnerships in Norway and Sweden cited that this may be due to same-sex couples’ ” . . . . non-involvement in joint parenthood”, “lower exposure to normative pressure about the necessity of life-long unions” as well as differing motivations for getting married.
Tax avoidance vehicle ?
Since the dawn of time societies have always afforded protection and a privileged status that extended into the present Christian era. But all that came to an abrupt end in the western world in 1970.
One of the encouragements offered to citizens who settled down and married and thus became positive contributors to society and wealth creation was the ability to mitigate penalties of asset and wealth transfer to children of that marriage upon one of the spouses’ death.
This concession discriminated against single heterosexual (unmarried) men and divorced fathers in particular since the latter groups had already been taxed at the time of their divorce (ancillary relief) and at death their estate stood to be taxed a second time by means of Inheritance Tax. At least the single heterosexual man would not have lost 90% of his asset wealth in a divorce.
Such is the tax relief now extended to same-sex couples (see Annex 2 above) that if one were cynical for a moment one could devise a tax avoidance vehicle for divorced fathers (and unmarried heterosexual men) simply by advocating their nominal marriage with another divorced father (see Part 1 of Schedule 1, below). In so doing, each surviving head of family household would be better able pass on their accumulated wealth to their children.
Alan Milburn, a former Labour minister for Health, when advised of the notion that “The engine of wealth creation is the married man” was completely non-plussed (CSJ fringe meeting Manchester, Sept 2013).
Divorcing same-sex couples may yet face the same level of assets confiscation in the future that their heterosexual brethren already endure.
Baroness O’Cathain made some excellent points in a house of lords debate (24 June 2004) in which she highlighted some of the resulting discrimination and inequalities the proposed Same-Sex Partnership bill would create (see http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/2004/jun/24/civil-partnership-bill-hl ).
- If a daughter gives up her job to look after her elderly mother for 20 years, should she be denied the same rights, including the financial benefits, which the Bill gives to same-sex couples?
- If a niece goes to live with her disabled aunt and looks after her for 15 years, is her love and commitment for her close relation considered to be less important than that of a same-sex couple?
- The niece has to pay inheritance tax if she inherits her aunt’s estate, but the survivor of a same-sex couple in a registered partnership would not. Is this situation fair and just? I think not.
Family members are currently broadly in the same position as same-sex couples regarding the succession of a tenancy. But it is important to remember that close relations are not exempt from Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
- When the noble Lord, Lord Alli, spoke in support of a Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Lester, inheritance tax was the first issue that he raised. He read from a letter written by the partner of Lord Montague of Oxford for whom the issue of inheritance tax was critical. The noble Lord, Lord Alli, told us that Lord Montague had to sell his possessions to pay the inheritance tax and said: Surely this cannot be right. It is unfair to make people sell their family homes”.—[Official Report, 25/1/02; col. 1697.]
It may come as a shock to parliamentarians living in their Westminster Bubble but if the ‘ordinary Joe’ citizen, who might own a corner shop, suddenly dies or has to retire due to a heart attack the Inland Revenue have long been able to pounce and demand huge sums due to Capital Gains Tax legislation. This has cost families not only the businesses which they have built up but all their savings, and even the homes they lived in. Lord Alli is right to think that Capital Gains Tax is unfair and pernicious but why limit the relief from it to the landed gentry ?
Baroness O’Cathain concluded by saying that the Bill provided people in same-sex relationships who went through a civil partnership to obtain many more rights than those in family relationships. In other words she believed that the same-sex couples Bill would give such partnership a higher status than (heterosexual) family relationships.
Echoing some of her points Lord Tebbit was of the view that as the Bill was presently drafted it discriminated against family members who are listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (i.e. partnership must not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship, e.g. niece and elderly aunt), and it discriminates by prohibiting the option of civil partnerships to persons of opposite sex. No adequate reason has been given for that. (see 24 June 2004, vol 662 cc1354-91 http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/2004/jun/24/civil-partnership-bill-hl).
- I believe that it is completely wrong. I believe that it is wrong when parents and children are excluded. I find it hard to see that the bonds by which they are united are weaker than those which may band homosexual couples, or indeed other couples of the same sex
Knowing of the new liberty to source overseas same-sex brides /partners it is surprising no one raised the question of the implications on the number of immigrants this law change might encourage.
Earlier in the same year (22nd April 2004) Baroness O’Cathain spoke of the government’s estimate that “ . . .. between 5% and 10% of homosexual couples would want to get involved in civil partnerships” with which she took issue:
- According to footnote 3 on page 108 of the Explanatory Notes to the Bill, the figure is 3.3%. That means that 96.7% of homosexuals in the UK will not register a civil partnership, in the Government’s own estimation.
- How can we justify spending all this parliamentary time on a Bill containing 196 clauses and 22 schedules, lasting 258 pages, which will take eight days in Grand Committee ? – see Column 407.
How indeed can spending all this parliamentary time be justified when those who benefits can be measured in the low thousands ?
Roll call of pro-homosexual events & legislation, by year (abbreviated)
1984 Chris Smith, newly elected to the UK parliament declares: “My name is Chris Smith. I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and I’m gay“,
1989 The campaign group Stonewall UK is set up to oppose Section 28 and other barriers to equality
1992 The first Pride Festival was held in Brighton
1997 Gay partners in UK were given equal immigration rights
1997 Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey, becomes the first MP to come out voluntarily as a lesbian (not to be confused with Angela Mason (b Aug 1944), former civil servant & director of the gay rights lobby group Stonewall, aka Angela Weir, who advised Gov’t Depts on equality matters but who was put on trial for terrorism and bomb making in the 1970s.
1999 Stephen Twigg became the first openly gay politician to be elected to the House of Commons. Michael Cashman became the first openly gay UK member elected to the European Parliament.
2000 The Labour government scraps the policy of barring homosexuals from the armed forces
2002 Same-sex couples are granted equal rights to adopt
2003 Section 28, which banned councils and schools from intentionally promoting homosexuality, is repealed in England & Wales and Northern Ireland.
2004 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed by the Labour Government (but nothing for heterosexuals).
2006 The Equality Act 2006 which establishes the Equality and Human Rights Commission (CEHR) and makes discrimination against lesbians and gay men in such provision as goods and services illegal (but nothing for heterosexuals).
2006 Section 28 successfully repealed.
2007 The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations becomes law
2008 Treatment of lesbian parents and their children is equalized in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
2010 Pope Benedict XVI condemns British equality legislation for running contrary to “natural law” as he confirmed his first visit to the UK.
2013 The coalition government unveils its Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
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- ‘Married but for all the wrong reasons’, http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/39/
- British Social Attitudes Surve
- Children Act 2004
- Civil Partnership Act 2004
- Local Government Act 2003
- “Same-sex marriages – Canada’s hidden data” https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/43/
- “Gay Marriage & Unions – an Inter-European Comparison” https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/41/
- “Same-Sex Unions and Divorce Risk: Data From Sweden” http://www.breakpoint.org/search-library/search?view=searchdetail&id=2781
- Joanna Radbord, ‘Journal of the Assoc. for Research on Mothering’
- Margaret Hodge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stemcor
- Also http://www.marriagedebate.com/pdf/SSdivorcerisk.pdf
 LGBT – the commonly used initials for a rainbow alliance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender orientation.
 ‘Gay Britain: inside the ONS statistics’, Sept 23rd 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/sep/23/gay-britain-ons
 See for example, Law Commission paper on cohabiting proposals which favour wealth transfers to female cohabitees only when separating but not male cohabitees, and “Be Careful Who You Marry’ by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D https://cohabitationlaw.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/16/
 For modern intolerance see also blog site http://www.glennbeck.com/2015/03/17/the-tolerant-left-turns-on-famous-gay-designers-because-of-their-comments-on-parenting/
 For example, contrary to its own Review in May 2002, the Blair government announced plans to legalise adoption by homosexuals and heterosexuals who ‘live together’.
 For example: Angela Mason a former director of Stonewall became director of Equalities Office from 2003 to 2007, even though a convicted in the 1970s as a member of the Angry Brigade bombing squad (see Annex 5) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Angry_Brigade ). And minister for Wales, Ron Davies, “moment of madness” in the bushes on Clapham Common, South London, in 1998.
 “ . . . veteran feminist Patricia Hewitt, who despite being married herself said a year before Labour’s 1997 victory that marriage ‘doesn’t fit any longer, particularly not in Britain’.”, by Melanie Phillips, June 2003 http://www.melaniephillips.com/marriage-lite-anyhow-sex-and-the-biological-bazaar
 Quote “. . . fulfilling a long-standing political promise to the Gay community.” see 2004 ONS report into same-sex union numbers https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/41/ .
 Gay and Lesbian couples; “Nearly a third of all the civil partners who ended their partnership last year were women under 40.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2450444/Gay-marriage-Civil-partnership-break-ups-approach-heterosexual-rate.html#ixzz3VXeMaPBW Oct 2013.
 “Mother loses her children to former lesbian partner,” by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor The Times , April 7, 2006 http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article702829.ece .
 See http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2002/feb/03/features.magazine27 Sunday 3 February 2002
 She was a founding member and President of the Board of Directors of Daybreak, a refuge and multi-service agency for battered women and their children in the USA from 1977 – 1981. It is believed she unsuccessfully brought sex offence charges against her college lecturer when in Florida
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/business-transparency/freedom-of-information/what-can-i-request/previous-foi-requests/population/number-of-civil-partnership-dissolutions/index.html See also http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob2/civil-partnership-statistics–united-kingdom/2012/rtd-dissolutions.xls (Table 1)
A truth that dare not speak its name
More than 12 years on from this Jan 2003 report the public is still not allowed to know the full damage done to families and society by legislation that encourages divorce.
Nor is the public allowed to appreciate the very real and graver disadvantages many children have to struggle with as a consequence. These children are blissfully unaware that their futures and life chances have been brutally compromised by their parents’ actions and that they will never perform or aspire to their full potential.
Study Says Broken Homes Harm Kids More
by Sue Chan, Jan 23rd 2003
CBS/AP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Children growing up in single-parent families are twice as likely as their counterparts to develop serious psychiatric illnesses and addictions later in life, according to an important new study.
Researchers have for years debated whether children from broken homes bounce back or whether they are more likely than kids whose parents stay together to develop serious emotional problems.
Experts say the latest study, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, is important mainly because of its unprecedented scale and follow-up – it tracked about 1 million children for a decade, into their mid-20s.
The question of why and how those children end up with such problems remains unanswered. The study suggests that financial hardship may play a role, but other experts say the research also supports the view that quality of parenting could be a factor.
The study used the Swedish national registries, which cover almost the entire population and contain extensive socio-economic and health information. Children were considered to be living in a single-parent household if they were living with the same single adult in both the 1985 and 1990 housing census. That could have been the result of divorce, separation, death of a parent, out of wedlock birth, guardianship or other reasons.
About 60,000 were living with their mother and about 5,500 with their father. There were 921,257 living with both parents. The children were aged between 6 and 18 at the start of the study, with half already in their teens.
The scientists found that children with single parents were twice as likely as the others to develop a psychiatric illness such as severe depression or schizophrenia, to kill themselves or attempt suicide, and to develop an alcohol-related disease.
Girls were three times more likely to become drug addicts if they lived with a sole parent, and boys were four times more likely.
The researchers concluded that financial hardship, which they defined as renting rather than owning a home and as being on welfare, made a big difference.
However, other experts questioned the financial influence, saying Swedish single mothers are not poor when compared with those in other countries, and suggested that quality of parenting could also be a factor.
Commenting on the results, Sara McLanahan, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, and who was not involved in the study said:
- It makes you think that what you’re seeing is just the most dysfunctional families having these problems, rather than the low income. The money is really an indicator of something else.
- If you really thought that it was the income that makes the difference, you would think that Swedish lone mothers would do a lot better than the British or those in the U.S., but they look very similar.
Other experts agreed.
In the last 20 to 30 years, poverty has been greatly reduced everywhere in Europe, but psychiatric problems in children have not, said Dr. Stephen Scott, a child health and behavior researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who also was not involved in the study.
He said that in previous studies, once researchers have adjusted their results to eliminate the influence of bad parenting, any increased risk of emotional problems shrinks markedly. This, he said, indicates it is not so much single parenthood but the quality of parenting that is at issue.
- The kind of people who end up as single parents might not have done well by their kids, even if they hadn’t ended up alone. They tend to be more critical in their relationships, more derogatory toward other people.
Scott added that it is also harder to be a warm, non-critical parent when you’re bringing up a child alone. However, he noted that there are plenty of children from single-parent families who don’t end up with serious emotional problems.
There may also be a genetic element: More irritable people are more likely to become separated, but they are also more likely, whether they are separated or not, to have more irritable children, Scott said.
McLanahan was reported as saying:
- The whole field is highly debated. This is another piece in that debate that makes several important points – firstly that there really is an increased risk in young adulthood of pretty bad things. It also indicates it’s not all about the money, but may be about the people themselves,”
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- The Lancet, http://www.thelancet.com
- “Mortality, severe morbidity, and injury in children living with single parents in Sweden: a population-based study” by Gunilla Ringbäck Weitoft, Anders Hjern, Bengt Haglund, Måns Rosén (http://www.thelancet.com/journal/journal.isa ). Centre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden (G R Weitoft BA, A Hjern MD, B Haglund DMSc, M Rosén PhD); Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden (G R Weitoft, M Rosén); Department of Clinical Sciences, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (A Hjern).
Can single Dads handle the night shifts with their babies ?
By Richard Warshak
first published in The Institute for Family Studies
Fifty-one years ago, The Feminine Mystique ushered in the movement that promised to liberate parents from the cultural straitjacket of rigid gender roles. We asked fathers to be more than just material providers to their children. Stop pacing the maternity ward waiting room and join your wife in the delivery room. Help pay for diapers, formula, and children’s books, yes. But don’t expect Mom to change all the diapers, do all the feeding, and read all the bedtime stories.
Dads got the message. The most recent study of dual-earner families reported that on a typical workday, fathers spent a little more than 1.5 hours directly engaged with their three-month-old infants. This may not sound like a lot, but it amounts to 41 percent of the total time that the two parents interacted with their infants. Not quite half. But getting there. And babies are benefiting from all this time with Dads.
Whether observed in the laboratory or in natural settings, Dads demonstrate over and over that their presence matters a great deal to their children from the baby’s birth onward. The more time parents spend with their infants and toddlers, the better able they are to read their baby’s signals and respond sensitively to their children’s needs. It takes nothing away from mother-child relationships when Dads change diapers and bathe babies. For some important areas of development, such as vocabulary and children’s persistence in the face of obstacles and frustration—the “can-do” attitudes that are essential to success in life – fathers may have a greater impact than do mothers.
When it comes to encouraging hands-on shared parenting, society imposes a curious double standard.
All this is good news for children in two-parent homes. But not such good news for children whose parents separate. When it comes to encouraging hands-on shared parenting, society imposes a curious double standard. When they live with their children’s mother, we expect Dads to assume their fair share of parenting responsibility. When parents separate, though, some people think that young children need to spend every night in one home, usually with mom, even when this means losing the care their father has been giving them.
In her recent Family Studies blog post, Professor Linda Nielsen showed how this idea arose from seriously flawed interpretations of data that were repeated often enough to acquire the aura of truth. Just last month a popular United Kingdom authority on parenting relied on such interpretations to conclude:
- “Findings strongly suggest that shared care that includes spending nights, or even a single night at a time, away from ‘home’ and mother is seldom in the best interests of children under around four years of age irrespective of the families’ socio-economic background, their parenting or the co-operation between the parents.”
Many of us still think that it is Mom’s exclusive role to care for infants and toddlers, and that we jeopardize young children’s well-being if we trust fathers to do the job.
Where does science stand on these issues? To find out, I spent two years reviewing the relevant scientific literature and vetting my analyses with an international group of experts in the fields of early child development and divorce. The American Psychological Association published the resulting consensus report with the endorsement of 110 of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners. One of the signatories was UVA’s Emerita Professor of Psychology E. Mavis Hetherington.
Shared parenting should be the norm for children of all ages whose parents live apart from each other.
We reached two main conclusions. First, the social science evidence on how healthy parent-child relationships normally develop, and the long-term benefits of those relationships, supports the view that shared parenting should be the norm for children of all ages, including very young children, whose parents live apart from each other. Second, restricting fathering time to daytime hours until children enter kindergarten is not the best arrangement for most children if we want to give them the best chance for normal relationships with their fathers. Naturally, shared parenting is not for all families. In general, though, we favor having young children spending some nights at their fathers’ homes, and find no reason to postpone overnights until children turn four.
It is time to resolve our ambivalence and contradictory ideas about fathers’ and mothers’ roles in their children’s lives. If we value Dad reading Goodnight Moon to his toddler and soothing his fretful baby at 3 a.m. while the parents are living together, why withdraw our support and deprive the child of these expressions of fatherly love just because the parents no longer live together, or just because the sun has gone down ?
Richard A. Warshak is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He is the author of “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report,” published in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Divorce Poison: How To Protect Your Family From Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing, and Welcome Back, Pluto: Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Parental Alienation.
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Today we learn that another set of Shared Parenting initiatives across the US have failed – see, “Report: States fail on shared parenting laws” by Jonathan Ellis (‘USA TODAY’, Nov 13th). 
The report compiled by the National Parents Organization – and shown below – grades each state on its capacity to deal with shared parenting as a child custody alternative (see Appendix 1)
The top scoring states were Alaska and Arizona with ‘B+’ grades, and seven states plus Washington, DC, received a ‘B’ grade. Nearly half of the 50 states received a ‘D’ grade but New York and Rhode Island rated only a poor ‘F’.
This reluctance is typical of the ingrained attitude of governments afraid of any progressive thinking that they haven’t thought of first. It is the general fate – with notable exceptions – that greets any supporter of shared parenting (though it has to be said that the situation is improving by the year and had they been undertaken 10 years ago, in 2004, then firstly it would not have made headlines and secondly, the grades would all have been ‘F’). At least today the subject has now become part of mainstream culture.
The struggle for recognition is reminiscent of barriers to progress faced by mathematician and electronics inventor Ivor Catt (you can thank him for his part in making it possible for the computer you are now using to handle data). In a lecture given to the Ethical Society, entitled “The Politics of Knowledge” (24th March 1996), Catt spelt out the difficulties of 1/. acceptance and 2/. of suppression that inventors have faced through the ages (see Appendix 2). In a separate essay (“The Clever Take the Brilliant”), Catt outlined how one doesn’t have to be the sharpest tool in the box to ‘win out.’ It’s comparable to fitting one dud spark plug to a car engine and despite the finest and most perfect performance from all the other spark plugs, the engine’s perfomance drops and the engine is in effect governed by the dullest speak plug.
While sole mother custody is the predominant regime most often found, the custody engine and children’s safety will always, despite everyone’s best endeavours, be performing at below par. Linda Scher, mentioned below typifies the schism in thinking and the inability to think outside the box. She confuses the shared parenting concept as a simplistic choice between 1/. promoting parental rights versus 2/. children’s needs. She then further muddies the waters by stating that ” . . . judges need flexibility to determine custody issues on a case-by-case basis” completion ignoring that at present custody is decided on nothing better than a conveyor belt basis.
‘Report: States fail on shared parenting laws’
Jonathan Ellis, USA TODAY, November 13, 2014
Supporters of shared parenting for children whose parents are divorced or separated have few victories to claim in their attempts to win family law reforms across the country
- “It’s been a hard slog, and there’s not a lot to show for those efforts,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder of the National Parents Organization.
Holstein’s organization and other supporters are trying to reverse decades of family law tradition where judges often award custody to one parent – typically the mother – while the non-custodial parents receive less time with their children. In cases that don’t involve allegations of physical abuse, substance abuse or other issues, supporters argue that both parents should have a 50-50 split with children.
But the difficulty in convincing state lawmakers to buck tradition was reflected in a first-ever report card released Thursday by the National Parents Organization. The study evaluated state custody laws and found that most of them are not friendly to shared parenting.
Nearly half the states received a D, while New York and Rhode Island received Fs. No state received an A, but seven states and the District of Columbia received a B. The top scoring states were Alaska and Arizona.
Holstein said judges across the country still rely on decades-old research rooted in Freudian psychoanalysis about what’s best for children. More recent studies have discredited theories that children should only be with their mothers, he said.
Linda Nielsen, a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, agrees. Nielsen has reviewed dozens of studies comparing children who had one custodial parent with children in shared parenting situations. Children in shared parenting situations had lower levels of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, truancy and other negative behaviors than children who lived primarily with a custodial parent, she said.
Nielsen said that judges, lawyers, psychologists, mediators and others who work in family law are often unaware of the research supporting shared parenting.
- “We’ve done a very poor job of getting the data to those people,” she said. “That’s the fault of social scientists.”
Despite research showing otherwise, many people believe that mothers are better parents than fathers, Nielsen said.
- “It’s almost one of those issues where people don’t want to look at the research because they have those gut feelings,” she said.
But Linda Scher, a family mediator in Portland, Ore., said judges need flexibility to determine custody issues on a case-by-case basis. She notes that within family law, there is an ongoing battle between those promoting parental rights versus children’s needs.
Shared parenting works well in the right situations, she said. But not necessarily for children who are very young, or for those who need consistency.
- “You have to look at a menu of factors,” said Scher, who serves as the chair of the Parental Involvement Work Group of the Oregon State Family Law Advisory Committee.
Ultimately, she added, the law in Oregon doesn’t weigh in on whether shared parenting is a good or bad idea.
- “The parents are in the best position to make that call,” she said.
Despite limited success in legislatures, Holstein said supporters plan to focus efforts in 2015 on legislation that would require judges to consider shared parenting when issuing temporary orders. Those orders are the first step in a divorce proceeding in which a judge establishes initial custody and makes other orders regarding money and living arrangements for the separating couple.
Parenting, Holstein said, is a constitutionally protected practice, and judges who issue temporary orders often know nothing about the couple or about what’s in a child’s best interest.
- “How can a court honestly declare that they are fashioning something in the best interest of a child when they don’t know the child? They can’t. It cannot be done by definition. Here’s a newly divorcing couple walking into the courtroom, but you know nothing about them,” he said.
And absent changes in family law, Holstein said he can envision a court challenge arguing that parents are being deprived of their constitutional rights to be parents.
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Compared to some geographical and political blocs the US could be said to be galloping ahead in the Shared Parenting(SP) stakes. Of course, the main difference is that those other geographical and political blocs are unitary nations and the US is a loose federation of semi-autonomous states. Consequently there is a great disparity between states while giving an encouraging if misleading average, thus:
- “Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 17% of children of separated or divorced parents have shared parenting, which prevents their ability to benefit equally from both parents and has a tremendous impact on their emotional, mental and physical health (see “A New Look at Child Welfare: Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting”).
Compared with the rate of SP in Australia, Belgium, France (and certainly the UK), 17% is a very respectable rate.
Analysis by grades
- 0 states received an A
- 8 states received a B
- 18 states received a C
- 23 states received a D
- 2 states received an F [these were New York and Rhode Island]
National Parents Organization’s 2014 Shared Parenting Report Card is the first national study to provide a comprehensive ranking of the states on their child custody statutes, assessing them primarily on the degree to which they promote shared parenting after divorce or separation.
Single Parenting Vs Shared Parenting
The Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Justice, the Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing. Children raised by single parents account for:
- 63% of teen suicides;
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71% of high school drop-outs;
- 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85% of those in prison;
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
- 90% of homeless and runaway children
These figures and rates have been ‘standard’ in the US for approximately the past 30 years and there is no likelihood of them changing until SP is adopted more fully.
The question may arise as to just why Alaska and Arizona should represent such outstanding innovation and foresight and how SP is woven into their child custody regulations. The following points may answer some of those questions.
- Alaska explicitly permits shared custody “if shared custody is determined to be in the best interest of the child.” ALASKA STAT. § 25.20.070
- Alaska requires that, in issuing temporary orders, “[u]nless it is shown to be detrimental to the welfare of the child … or unless the presumption under ALASKA STAT. § 25.24.150(g) is present, the child shall have, to the greatest degree practical, equal access to both parents during the time that the court considers an award of custody.” ALASKA STAT. § 25.20.070
- Alaska statutes require, except in cases of domestic abuse, consideration of a “friendly parent” factor: “the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.” ALASKA STAT. § 25.24.150(c)(6)
- Arizona requires courts to “adopt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time.” ARIZ. REV. STAT. § 25-403.02
- Arizona explicitly endorses a “friendly parent” rule. ARIZ. REV. STAT. § 25-403
- Arizona explicitly requires courts to consider “[w]hether one parent intentionally misled the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or a parenting time preference to that
Elsewhere in this series of blog sites we have reported on Florida’s earlier attempts to embrace SP. This is what the National Parents Organization’s 2014 Shared Parenting Report Card concluded for Florida:
- Florida has a strong statutory presumption of shared parental responsibility: “The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” FLA. STAT. § 61.13
THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE
Published in The Ethical Record, June 1996.
In a letter in Wireless World, Nov. 1981, J.L. Linsley Hood writes that “censorship has been effective throughout my own professional career….”. He lists nine authors who could not have been published anywhere else but in Wireless World.
There is usually no conspiracy to suppress heretical ideas. There is no need of one, except in some specific instances, because as Charles McCutcheon wrote in the New Scientist (itself a notorious suppressor, but not as bad as Nature) on 29 April 1976, p.225, “An evolved conspiracy” suffices.
A pivotal event in science was the Michelson-Morley experiment in the 1880’s. I ran into a discussion in the interval at the Royal Institution seminar to celebrate the centenary of the Michelson-Morley experiment. An American who was setting up an international conference on relativity discussed with Prof. Kilmister, one of the lecturers, whether ether buffs should be suppressed at that conference. He also asked how Harold Aspden should be dealt with. That is, he was discussing how to suppress a specific dissident. They concluded that if ether believers kept to Establishment mathematics they should be allowed to put their case. The American, who told me that he was a born-again Christian and had previously been evil, said that he regarded heresy in science much as he regarded heresy in religion. More generally, suppression in science results from fear that a new idea will obstruct the normal, calm progression of academic career progress and research funding.
Suppression is the norm rather than the exception. Even Maddox, editor of Nature, who gave the Ethical Society’s Voltaire Lecture on 18th November 1995, now says he is worried. Maddox says that suppression is increasing. The Daily Telegraph of 1 May 1989 quotes him; “The epoch-making paper by Francis Crick and James Watson outlining the structure of DNA, which appeared in Nature in 1953, would ‘probably not be publishable today’, Maddox laments….”. That is Maddox, the greatest suppressor of all, joining the band-waggon of concern about suppression. With his track record, that is mind-blowing. Scientists have successfully resorted to false authorship (Theocharis), and Lovelock, the inventor of “Gaia”, said on radio that he resorted to a false address to get into Nature.
 USA TODAY, Nov 13th 2014 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/13/shared-parenting-laws-report-card/18981831/
This is taken from a French organisation that does not support shared parenting (i.e. alternating residence), and is dated circa 2009. Nevertheless, its contains some interesting facts and figures concerning custody awards of that era and the reasons given for disliking shared parenting.
Published by ‘L’enfant d’abord’ (‘The Child Comes First’) this is a group based in Grenoble, France, and run by Jacqueline Phélip. She has worked closely with Maurice Berger, well-known for his opposition to shared parenting. Jacqueline Phélip also produced the now almost infamous, “Black book on shared parenting”(this book is now 20 years old).
“Alternating residence or alternating custody 2002 – 2009″
The translated text will be shown in grey boxes and slightly indented with the various comments and observations in clear text and not indented.
The French law of March 2002 granting ‘parental authority’ authorises family court judges the power to impose an alternating residence (also called shared parenting or ‘guard alternée’) on children of couples who separate.
However, the Act contains no safeguard, no single criterion that could help judges to make the best decisions for children, namely, age of the child; any parental conflict; taking account of the primary care-giver during the marriage, domestic violence etc
At the same time, the number of parental separations with children younger, while babies often, even during pregnancy, continues to grow. According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, the alternating residence concerned 11% of couples separated in 2005.
75% of alternating residences awards are made for children aged less than 10 years old (see below).
Alternating residence is practiced in 70% of cases on a weekly basis. The average age of the children is 7 years.
The age of children concerned.
0.1 year : 2. %
1 year : 4.2 %
2 years : 6.7 %
3 years : 10.4 %
4 years : 11. %
5 years : 11.8 %
6 years : 12.1 %
7 years : 13.4 %
These figures, however, do not take into account other patterns of alternating residence, which while not being strictly egalitarian still manage to completely fragment children’s lives.
Many children from inappropriate homes who are subjected to alternating residence suffer significant levels of psychological distress, the consequences of which will only appear in adolescence or later in adult years.
NB. In the UK a level of 11% or 13% (see above), for alternating residence and shared parenting is unheard of and would mark a significant departure from the present tiny levels for shared residence.
Practices found other Countries
In all countries, equal or alternating residence plays as very minor role.
A number of Western countries have adopted laws that promote joint custody after parental separation, but almost all rejected the presumption of a systematic alternating residence and ‘a fortiori’ the time-sharing of the child into two equal parts.
NB. The meaning of ‘a fortiori’ is “by even greater force of logic” or “all the more so because.” But this is to completely misunderstand ‘shared parenting’ or alternating residence which, in practice, will rarely ever be 50/50 due to work commitments of each parent. So that objection can be ignored as spurious – RW.
It is necessary to define some terms in order to clarify the situation:
• In Anglo-Saxon countries, “joint custody” or “joint legal custody” means joint parental authority
• “joint physical custody” means the time spent by the child in each of its parents
NB. This interpretation is not true either; “Joint custody” or “joint legal custody” are terminologies found in North America and in particular the USA. It is not used in England
California was the first state in 1979 to adopt a “presumption” of custody joint physical” which was often equal or almost equal.
But very soon, in the face of the multiple failures and harm the State subsequently amended its law (in 1994) to allow only the “joint physical custody” only if both parents have jointly requested it and if the interests of the child are preserved.
NB. It has to be stated that in 1974 any US father who sought shared, or joint, custody of his child would be told by the judge that it was “preposterous”, judges simply didn’t have the authority to do that. This happened to James Cook, from Los Angeles, and it took him until 1979 to alter the state’s law and a further 28 years until eventually 40 states followed suit. Together with US attorney Renee Sperling, James Cook met with the appropriate UK Government Dept in Oct 2002 but nothing has ever changed (James Cook died in Feb 2009).
According to the “American Bar Association”, other states such as Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Vermont and Washington have also passed laws in favour of joint custody, but only if both parents agree. Some states have not allowed such joint custody.
NB. See James Cook and the Joint Custody Association above.
In recent years, the term “shared physical custody” mainly describes a parenting plan by which parents agree on the time the child will spend with each parent.
NB. Shared parenting or ‘shared physical custody’ does depend on a written, binding agreement between parents to avoid misunderstandings and drift or ‘slippage’ over time. It is there to prevent manipulation and rancour from affecting the child’s well being.
But whether by parental agreement or by court order, the effective sharing 50-50 of the child’s time is not the standard, norm, or most frequently adopted parenting plan – either by the parents or the courts (see Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP, 2008).
NB. Yes, that is true because it is impracticable (see note above ‘work commitments’), and demonstrates the constant corrupting of what it is fathers world-wide are pushing for.
Denmark – Germany – Austria
For unmarried couples who separate the mother gets custody of the children unless parental consent (see “parental authority in question”-Défossez Dekeuwer F., C. Choain 2004).
NB. But what about formerly married fathers ? On the continent (the EU), unmarried couples represent a far larger proportion of couples than in the UK (at 11%) or US (2%).  Since 2004 the situation has changed for unmarried fathers in Germany & Austria (Denmark ?), but not for formerly married fathers.
According to psychology professor Francine Cyr, “shared physical custody” accounts for 13% of custody awards and only 2% are egalitarian homes (cf. Forum University of Montreal). Children under 5 years are usually left primarily in the care of their mother.
According to psychology professor Francine Cyr, “joint physical [shared] custody” represents 13% of the cases, and only 2% are egalitarian residences, i.e. a 50/50 split (see Forum Université de Montréal). Children less than 5 years are usually left primarily to the custody of their mother.
NB. The ‘tender years’ doctrine seems to be in force and applied here, i.e. under 5 year olds. This is ‘old school’ thinking. Indeed, in May 2014 Canada’s parliament once again voted down a shared parenting Bill, C-560. Note too, that despite Lord Falconer’s outburst in 2004 that a). that fathers’ groups wanted that, and b). that a 50/50 split of children’s time was an “impossibility”, it doers occur, albeit in small numbers.
The Past of a Child is also its Present
Although fathers of today are more involved with their children than in yesteryear, sociological and statistical studies are relentless: when living as man and wife it is mothers who by far assume the physical and mental care for children
NB. This is where issues begin to fall apart for Jacqueline Phélip and her followers. Dr Linda Nielsen (2013), makes the following observations; since most married mothers do 80% of the childcare is it fair on mothers that this should increase to 90% or even 100% after a divorce ?
Worse follows; several other facts have to be kept in mind. First, most married couples are sharing the parenting time more equally, with employed fathers spend roughly 60 minutes on weekdays with the children while employed mothers spend 90 minutes. Pro rata, this would be the equivalent after divorce of 120 overnights with a father after divorce.
How is that still possible, bearing in mind the “implacable” sociological and statistical studies showing mothers shouldering the burden, when both parents, because of the gender wage equalisation, have to go out to work to achieve a minimum standard of living – the ‘family wage’ and the ‘living wage’ having effectively been abolished ?
Using aspects from Nielsen (2014), these “implacable sociological studies and statistics” simply crumble in the face of, for instance, the Wisconsin studies (1,200 families) and an Australian study of 7,118 separated parents (see Melli & Brown, 2008, and Kaspiew et al., 2009, respectively), plus others.
And how can it the burden on mothers be so “massive” when fathers awarded 25% to 50% of shared parenting cope very well with day-to-day chores and care of children of all ages (see (Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992) ?
The ‘Stanford Custody Project’ followed children from 1,100 divorced families over a 4-year period in a random, representative sample of parents who had divorced in California in 1984. What made this study unique for its time was that 150 of these couples had a shared parenting plan where the children lived at least 35% time with their fathers: 25 were infants, 20 were 2-year-olds, 80 were 3- to 5-year-olds, 38 were 5- to 7-year-olds, and 163 were 8- to 16-year-olds.
Could it be that the research and opinions of Jacqueline Phélip and her followers have been left far behind ?
The Tabarot Report of July 2008 notes on ‘the childhood needs of a home‘ that:
“The fact that more and more women go out to work has not led to a new division of responsibilities within couples with regard to the custody, care and education of children: it is overwhelmingly women who continue to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility. French women still provide the bulk of housework and the education of children. French fathers participate three times less than mothers to care for the children and twice less than Swedish or Norwegian fathers.”
A study by DREES (Directorate of Research, Studies and Evaluation of Statistics), published in April 2007, also states that, ” . . .. it is almost always mothers who dress children, do their homework, stay at home when a child is sick, and take them and pick them up on their home place.
A study CEREQ (Centre for Study and Research on Qualifications) dated May 2007 confirms that “work-family balance is still based primarily on mothers.’
A study of the INED (National Institute of Demographic Studies) in September 2006, notes that:
“Change in status, hours, intensity of work or withdrawal from the labour market”: nearly 40% of women change their work in the twelve months after birth, whereas only 6% of fathers change their employment/work or schedules.
These statements are confirmed by the fact professors of sociology Sylvie Cadolle (University Paris-Sorbonne),  and Canadian, Denyse Côté (Université du Québec),  who both specialise in “custody” matters. With regards fathers’ groups seeking mandatory ‘alternate residence’, they responds (see “Gazette des Femmes”, Vol. 23).
“There are what they consider unfair presumptions of maternal custody within the legal system. It is true that the legal custody awards the majority of children to mothers. But this is not unfair and has nothing to do with ‘injustice’ since women occupy more of their time with children, before and after separation. It is in fact, a recognition by the legal system of a well documented fact. What would be unfair, would be to hide all this ‘invisible’ work.”
These observations are common in all Western countries including Sweden, was is always considered the model country for equal parenting.
Contrary to what groups of fathers say, there is therefore no injustice; no judicial ‘sexism’ that court orders can take into account, in the sole interest of the child, one of who was the child’s s primary source of care when the parents were living together.
Both parents are essential to building a child.
But this “both” if interpreted as a mathematical equality would require the presence of each parent with the child for the same amount of time. Father and mother are not interchangeable but complementary spheres of operation never being linked to an equal presence of each of them with the child whatsoever during the marriage or after.
NB. This is not what shared parenting is all about (it is not a a mathematical equation), and is another instance of willful corruption of the message and meaning by those opposed to it. Even the stricter ‘equal parenting’ or alternating residence formula is not that rigidly mathematical.
Other contributors and / or citations:-
Professor Catherine Jousselme (page 12)
Professor of child psychiatry and adolescent in Paris-Sud, attached to the UNIT, INSERM U 669 and Department Head of the Valley Foundation in Gentilly. In “They are shaped as they grow up” R. Laffont, 2008:
“In addition, the flexibility seems quite essential in the establishment and continuation of such care, flexibility must take into account the needs of the child depending on their age and life events.
If the guard stiffens within the meaning of mathematical division of time which must be equivalent things go wrong quickly, neatly highlighting the conflict of loyalties in which the child is already more or less confined.
I also met children who develop operations handicapping in their social relations and in their learning as they urged the movement and have always a metro advance.”
E N D
 “Sharing between fathers and mothers for alternating residence of children and recomposition of gender roles”, 2011.
 “Rethinking the family, renewing practices, adapting policies,” New social practices, vol. 24.2. Quebec: Presses de l” Université du Québec, 2012.
 2% US, what source ?
by Robert Whiston FRSA May 20th 2014
Warshak goes a-gunning for the “research cowboys”
In the best traditions of the Wild West, a posse has been rounded up from among the honest and descent townsfolk to track down some renegade cattle rustler. But in this case the townsfolk are professors and heads of university departments and the quarry is a small gang, a rogue group, of research “cowboys” (in the pejorative sense of the word), who are inflicting inexcusable damage on this profession. When “brought to book” do we expect the villains to cry “Its fair cop” or weasel their way out of the charges ?
Academia should be an infinite font of knowledge – not a poisoned well.
Lest it slip from our grasp by way of a barrage of deliberate distractions, lets sum up what is McIntosh’s present position; she is in the dock of her peers charged with scurrilous academic behaviour. Let’s also examine what constitutes her defence and then compare it with her prior position:
- “She is now claiming that when it came to young children staying overnight [sleepovers] with their fathers, she never said” never.”
To a point this is true – but only the most generous would give her that benefit of the doubt. When in reality nothing has changed, are we having the wool pulled over our eyes by such protestations forcing us to have a parallax rather than a detached view ? Or is ‘McIntosh incident’ (involving the ‘Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ (AFCC) and Warshak) simply an ‘asymptote’ metaphor – where a straight line and a curved one approach each other but never make contact ?
McIntosh was the ‘eminence gris’ of the Norgrove Report cited to excuse its betrayal of fathers’ and children’s rights to see one another. The Norgrove interim report was favourable towards a legal presumption around shared parenting but in the Final report was against it (quot. “. . . . our decision . . . . to step back even from the recommendations we made in this respect in our interim report”).
What is riveting is the crucial role certain Australia academics played in England’s affairs. At page 215 Associate Professor Helen Rhoades, (Melbourne Law School) makes her submission arguing to the effect that there should not even be any ‘meaningful relationship with both parents’:
- “In response to Question 17 . . . .there should not be any formal legislative recognition of the importance of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents post separation for the following reasons . . . The risk that it will compromise children’s safety” (p. 216).
And just to round off the Australian dominance the reports she cites (including McIntosh and Chisholm) are all Australian and all so close to the 2006 law changes as to make their reliability suspect (see Appendix 1).
McIntosh and her Australian cronies sabotaged British efforts to bring equality to post-divorce settlements. The reactionary sabotage took the form of ‘scare tactics’, alleging inter-partner domestic violence will increase,but on other occasions it is more subtle.
In an otherwise balanced paper we might read the occasional generalising but giveaway remark such as; “ . . . what we are now discovering is that shared parenting is sometimes being used in a way that is harmful to children.” To read what is really lurking in McIntosh’s mind (or probably lurks there, for who knows ?), we can do worse than to turn to the work of fellow Australian Zoe Rathus. In 2010 she wrote a paper that was rather less ambiguous than McIntosh, though their views are so similar one would be hard pressed to slide the proverbial cigarette paper between their outlooks on the matter of custody after divorce.
Rathus argues in her 2010 paper that a presumption [of shared custody / parenting] is an inappropriate legal tool to use in the discretionary culture of family law decision-making because it encourages a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Which is curious, if not factually incompatible, since the preceding decades of sole- mother-custody in over 90% of all cases no one has ever accused that regime of cruelly inflicting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Rathus – and others – try to draw comfort from the apparent fact that:
- “The amount of research commissioned by this government suggests a willingness to consider reform.”
This argument does not quite hold water. The legislation was passed in 2006 and even before it was enacted a campaign to discredit it had been launched. On the political front the opposition party agreed to a total and wholesale review of the law if they won the election – and they did one year later. So by 2007 there were several commissions, inquiries and reviews ready to start work on a law that had barely had 12 months of data to work with and certainly had not had enough time to settle down and iron out any of the bugs.
This was politician cowardice masquerading as expediency of the worst kind.
The Rathus’ slur of presumptive “lego-science” and of allegedly “meaningful relationships” is one she has not thought though as it must therefore equally apply to mothers seeking custody as it does to fathers. And by extension it must also apply to those opposed to more fatherly involvement, i.e. Rathus, McIntosh, Liz Trinder and their whole coterie.
What is shocking in the Australian example is not the amount of research commissioned by government but its alacrity and skewed funding which is heavily biased towards those opposed to shared parenting.
Hoisted on . . ..
It would be comical, were it not so tragic, that “lego-science” is how McIntosh’s peers and better view her “serious” work. One suspects that she is trying to be a giant among men and follow in the footsteps of the legendary greats such as Sir Isaac Newton. But McIntosh suffers from having one foot in one camp and her other foot in another camp. She is split between family law issues, social science paradigms and split still further by neurological considerations. Can anyone master all three ?
Is it wishful thinking to imagine herself replicating the rise of Newton (If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants”) ?
Or is it more a case of the original Latin translation, “nanos gigantum humeris insidentes” (‘dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants) ?
Outside of the strict confines of academia’s occasionally esoteric bun fights, the ordinary working man oblivious to such shenanigans has to recognise that the menace posed is of a far wider and incipient nature.
The Warshak and Nielsen riposte to McIntosh’s misguided paper is far from being theoretical or hair-splitting and has nothing to do with ‘angels all trying to dance on the same pinhead’.
Profs. Nielsen and Warshak wish to point out to academics, and to professional and legal circles worldwide that their colleagues – a very august 110 of them – are in favour of stemming the McIntosh tide of misinformation, and want to replace such myths with science. Blue-collar and white-collar social classes (and their children) will all benefit greatly from Warshak‘s paper which advocates correcting such misinformation. Who but a Barbarian could turn their back on science that would improve the welfare of children and better their conditions ?.
Warshak’s paper reminds us that Meltzoff (back in 1998) warned that:
- “Uncritical acceptance of invalid research can impede the development of the field and jeopardize human welfare” (p. 9).
And it is that questionable, if not invalid, research by McIntosh, plus its uncritical acceptance in some quarters, that have sounded the alarm bells. Differences of opinion, especially regarding shared parenting are to be expected and welcomed but only if they arise from a sound scientific basis. Analysis that fully meets the test of scientific validity and reliability should be treated as trustworthy and should be allowed to enter into the legal sphere. However, it would seem like a large body on opinion believes McIntosh’s results are not up to muster on this key aspect.
Policy-makers and decision-makers must be encouraged to take account of valid data and that the material is laid out in such a fashion to allow discernment and the careful distinguishing between balanced, accurate reporting versus biased accounts which rely on studies with questionable methods and results.
The attempt to correct misrepresentations in the state of science and the harm such misrepresentations threaten resulted on this occasion in 111 social scientists with impeccable credentials questioning he results of McIntosh’s findings.
After reading the many papers one can’t help but infer that to a large extent the alleged risks of harming the mother-child relationships are a mere foil to prevent measures aimed at strengthening father-child relationship. This can only be the explanation for the professed concern that perhaps spending too much time away from the mother, i.e. having sleepovers at Dads, will result in the child having poor rather than high quality relationships with both parents.
Excluding McIntosh’s ambiguous results, the three studies that are most often cited as evidence for the harmful effects of greater father involvement with young children actually found mixed or ambiguous results perhaps because the measures used were inadequate by scientific standards
Counting back from the present (2014) it is clear McIntosh saw her main chance as affecting any legal reforms that might introduce shared parenting:
- “These deliberations occur against a backdrop of increasing legislative support for shared-time parenting following separation.”
- “Presumptions are being proposed in various states, provinces, and countries for both legal (decision-making) and physical (parenting time) care of children, yet the merits of such presumptions remain unclear, especially for families with very young children.” – – (“Parental separation and overnight care of young children, Part I: Consensus through Theoretical and Empirical Integration”, 2014. Pruett, McIntosh, Kelly). (See also Appendix 2 below).
Only a few years earlier, in May 2010, when Australia’s shared parenting law was still learning to walk McIntosh et al completed not one but three reports prepared for the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department (“Post – separation parenting arrangements and developmental outcomes for infants and children. Collected reports”).
In “Study 2: Overnight care patterns and psycho-emotional development in infants and young children” (p. 88) it asks “Why this study ?” and why when parents separate is shared parenting a good decision for infants and young children ? It correctly sums up the growing expectation that children’s overnight care (sleepovers) be divided between two households. McIntosh and her co-authors decide that this is a question in need of evidence:
- “To date, there are few empirically grounded guidelines for Family Law professionals to follow when advising their clients and the court about the appropriateness of this expectation when making decisions regarding very young children.”
In stepping into this breach in empirically grounded guidelines McIntosh immediately overlooks, like so many others, the 1987 report by the Law Commission on joint custody, i.e. ‘Supplement to Working Paper No. 96’ 
Revealingly, McIntosh sees progressive thinking and equality as somehow “regressive”, which is usually the accolade awarded by ‘gender-supremacist-feminists’ to social groups reluctant to see the change or to accept the version on offer to them:
- “One impetus for the current study arose from concerns about the rapid progression of family law reforms supporting this nature of shared care ahead of evidence about the developmental impacts of such arrangements for infants and young children.”
Which is also curious because she cites in her references John Eekelaar (now aged over 70) and co-director of the Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy (in fact the majority of the actors are at retirement age save for McIntosh). His name is associated with the many family law reform issues – usually in tandem with Mavis Maclean – and usually blocking them. In 1977 he was at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Wolfson College, Oxford. There he co-authored “Custody After divorce: The disposition of custody in divorce cases in Great Britain.” And it was Wolfson College that undertook a large (for its day) study of joint custody awards in England and Wales which found their way into Supplement to Working Paper No. 96.
I tackled him about 10 years ago as to why he was opposed to joint custody / shared parenting when it had worked successfully and formed up to 35% of all awards prior to his report and the 198 Act (the two Wolfson Studies are cited very extensively in Supplement to Working Paper No. 96). His reply was that he was busy, could not remember that far back, and anyway the numbers did not show what I suggested. But the numbers do show exactly that. Between 1973 and 1985 joint custody – in the UK this is comparable to what is now called shared parenting – rose from 3% to 18% (see Table 6).  Thereafter, the 1989 Act which was supposed to legitimise and encourage the growing trend actually killed-off joint custody and it fell back to less than 4% of all court awards.
It would be all too easy to blame only women with ‘feminist’ views for complicating and impoverishing the bulk of the population’s lives but as we can see above, John Eekelaar, and elsewhere, Michael Flood, Bruce Smyth, etc, are clearly men not women and yet are strongly against shared parenting. One group of women who are both feminists and in favour of shared parenting is the academic group known as “Leading Women for Shared Parenting.”
The ‘drift’ back to primary mother care over time probably happened in many countries but in the UK overnight it snapped back and struck like a cobra. And in so doing we also returned to the phrase “all else being well”.  For example, when applying for greater contact (or for ‘shared residence’ as allowed by the 1989 Children Act) more frequent overnight care was argued to be in an infant’s best interests when it was needed to ensure the primary parent’s physical or mental health but against the child’s best interests (CBI) when fathers applied. No where was this more apparent than in the speech given in Nov 2001 by Dame Butler-Sloss when head of the Family Division.
- “It is clear from the body of mental health and social work research and a long line of authority that the protection of the primary carer for the benefit of the child is of primary importance.”
An insight into some of the difficulties reformers face can be gained by looking at the networks many these papers must mask, e.g. ‘Legislating for Shared Time Parenting after Separation: A Research Review’ (Sept 2011). This is authored by Belinda Fehlberg, and Bruce Smyth (both from Australia), Mavis Maclean, well-known in the UK for her opposition to shared parenting, and Ceridwen Roberts, a slightly lesser known opponent of shared parenting.
An “insight” offer us the beginnings of future solutions and solutions present us with the chance of a resolution – in clinical evidence terms a complete remission of the disease which in this case is the obstinate “dog in the manger” attitude.
During this period from 2001 to the present day there have been academic coteries which not only cite mainly their close colleagues’ work but arrange for seminars to allegedly “explore the issues” but which in actual fact are used to raise consciousness and reinforce already held dogmas.
Everyone may not be aware that of the more than a dozen variations of feminism, one or two branches of it see no utility (i.e. benefit) in the man-woman “dyad” (i.e. two individual people linked as a pair).
‘Feminist psychology’, which embraces lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sympathies, shares an interest in dismantling social inequalities. The latter group (LGBT) has motives for the obvious expediency of entering mainstream society and enjoying what they see as heterosexual rights (family marriage adoption) denied to them for a long time.
Feminist psychology in cahoots with other allegedly ‘feminist’ splinter groups see one important way of dismantling social inequalities is to examine the very way in which inequalities are justified and legitimated in discourse. The family and the father’s role in the family are the most obvious targets to their progress (for this reason same-sex marriage is heavily supported by feminist academia and some feminist activists.).
McIntosh and her Australian chums are applying the same sort of feminist psychology to split fathers away from their children by inferring they are dangerous. Much as one might admire Machiavelli for his timeless, sage counsel on how power is wielded he is nevertheless attributed as coining “The ends justify the means.” It fell to Trotsky to humanise it with his version:
- “A means can be justified only by its end. But the end in its turn needs to be justified.”
In the eyes of the majority what is happening to fathers cannot be justified at any level save total power.
However, the gender divide regarding the abuse of children is counter-intuitive. Although there are many categories of child abuse certain types are predominantly populated by one sex rather than the other. For instance, sex offending is a predominantly male offence but neglect, starvation, homicide and child destruction, is a predominantly a female offence.
A prime example of an academic coterie favourable to McIntosh is Liz Trinder. She heads up ‘The Network on Family, Regulation and Society’ at Exeter university (formerly she worked at University and the University of East Anglia). At a conference sponsored on 25th May 2011 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), McIntosh was introduced as their prized keynote speaker and described in these glowing terms:
- “ . . . .Dr Jennifer McIntosh, the very highly regarded Australian child psychologist and empirical researcher. She is widely acknowledged as the leading international expert on the effects on children of shared care and has recently completed two important studies for the Australian government. This is the first time that this research will have been presented fully in the UK.”
(The way in which JRF has awarded sponsorship in the last decade has led some to argue it has long been infiltrated by feminists of the inclination mentioned above).
After what has happened to her reputation following the Arndt newspaper critique one wonders just how highly regarded she is, and among leading international experts how widely acknowledged has she now become for all the wrong reasons ?
‘Shared parenting after divorce or separation’, the conference was told, ‘is a very high-profile issue at present, generating a lot of heated debate. The Interim Report of the Family Justice Review [i.e. Norgrove] decided recently not to recommend that the law be changed to include a shared care presumption after parental separation [McIntosh was afforded an intervention into the Norgrove Cttee denied to all others]. In contrast, a Shared Parenting Bill currently before parliament would enshrine such a presumption.’
Apparently, this ‘presumption’ in favour of shared parenting which would have enhanced the position of fathers was anathema to those attending – which rather casts doubt on McIntosh’s honesty when she claims she never opposed shared parenting (‘By their fruits shall ye know them’, KJB, 1611).
NB Current members of the Trinder led network are:
Professor Anne Barlow (Exeter), Professor Ian Butler (Bath),
Professor Gillian Douglas (Cardiff), Dr Emma Hitchings (Bristol),
Professor Judith Masson (Bristol), Professor Janet Reibstein (Exeter),
Dr Tess Ridge (Bath), Dr Leanne Smith (Cardiff)
The kicker is the networks that such network have. Trinder’s network has “collaborative relationships with Family Law Bar Association, One Plus One and Resolution.”
But back to Trinder. She too stoops to conquer and a quick reading of her paper reveals research distortions. There are others but let’s pick out just one. Tinder cites Fabricius & Hall (2000) and then misrepresents their findings (see footnote 69):
- “ . . . . Further there is no research suggesting that children for the most part like or thrive on the fall-back ‘80/20’ arrangement . . . “
What the Fabricius & Hall (2000) study found was this: of 344 men and 485 women who were under-graduates and whose parents had divorced ten years earlier, 70% chose equal amounts of time with each parent as the ideal scenario in response to a vignette. The authors pointed out that this was not an idealistic position, as 93% of those who had experienced equal time with parents endorsed that particular living arrangement (as a choice, one assumes, they would have preferred).
No one would say Trinder is being economical with the truth but her paper to the Children and Families Bill Committee (re for consideration of shared parenting) had references that were so dated and out of date it was embarrassing to read. These shortcomings are listed in Memorandum CF 100 submitted as a counter to Children and Families Bill Committee and can be found at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmpublic/childrenandfamilies/memo/cf100.pdf .
Is the average journalist during a busy day going to read both Trinder’s paper and Fabricius & Hall’s to check out the accuracy? The answer is ‘no’. World wide the average newspaper and journalist is supposing the researcher is always telling the truth in an unbiased way. That is why such a debt is owed to Bettina Arndt.
So, we have McIntosh, Trinder and the Network and the latter confirms that is “has taken a particular interest in ensuring that current policy debates on shared parenting are informed by rigorous research evidence on what works for children. Informed ? Rigorous ? Research led evidence ? You decide. (See https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/law/research/frs/parenting/sharedparenting/ ).
With Nielsen’s and Warsak’s intellectual broadside, every presumption and every deduction previously held by this Commissariat has been blown out of the water. Fellow-travellers such as Flood. M; Wade. A; Hunt. J; Maclean. M; Neale. B; Smart. C; Flowerdew. J; must be wondering where they can turn next.
Into this Commissariat has been admitted former family court judge Richard Chisholm. Well known for being ill-disposed towards shared parenting, he now co-authors paper with McIntosh (after having been taken up the job offer immediately upon his retirement).
Whatever McIntosh paper is reviewed – in any year – the unremitting drumbeat is a message that children are particularly at risk from one parent; from both parents; from conflict; from violence; from psychological pressure – the list goes on and on.
Slave to ‘monotropy’
Professionally, McIntosh’s train has run into the buffers down under. The smouldering wreckage now found on those buffers comprises her adherence to Bowlby’s traditional mother attachment theory of the 1960s. Her insistence in its validity despite John Bowlby later disavowing his early findings has caused her this collision with her profession.
In the social sciences, the mother attachment theory is termed “monotropy.”  Monotropy is the idea that infants form attachment relationships with a single caregiver. This leaves no room, in theory, for fathers to form any attachment relationships with their child. The primacy of this single caregiver trumps all other claims made by any other party since the 1989 Act with the exception of family courts which alone have inherited the powers of guardianship. 
The origins of monotropy thinking can also be traced back to Anna Freud’s work in the 1950s and the first of her three highly damaging books “Beyond the Best Interests of the Child” (1973).  See ‘Anna Freud: Part 1 -3’, ‘The curse is cast’ (Whiston. R, Sept 2009).  as if to reinforce this view Warshak, in a 2011 paper also points out that, “The concept of monotropy was predominant in 20th century child custody case law” and cites Freud, Goldstein, & Solnit, (1973 – 1979), in that context.
Bowlby and his limited version of monotropy have long been discarded by the profession which realises that care-givers are not limited to one person or one sex but can be two or more. But, of course, it remains a highly efficient tool for those opposed to shared parenting to access it to muddy the waters and obfuscate.
‘Multiple attachment relationships’, i.e. more than one person, have been found cross-culturally, including in Germany, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. What is more, the quality of these relationships was independent so that, for instance, neither the relationship with the mother nor with the father was a template for the other.
In what was essentially are-run of ‘Legislating for Shared Time Parenting after Separation: A Research Review’ (by Fehlberg, Smyth, Maclean & Roberts, Sept 2011), McIntosh’s position that year was of emerging Australian research suggesting that shared care was more risky for children than other arrangements, with the caveat “where there are safety concerns” especially for “children younger than 4 years.”
In common with British counterparts, all well-funded and publicised papers of this era focused on what they termed ‘high conflict families’ and one has to ask why since they represent only about 5% of all separating families. In Britain the spectra of family violence was blown out of all proportion and used shamelessly to delay and deter any reforms.
The parallels are unearthly and the steps towards conclusions reached are eerily similar across a wide gamut of authors that one feels entitled to call them the Commissariat.
What is intriguing – and a giveaway – about McIntosh and her coterie is the way they always cite each others work whenever possible, thereby ensuring their papers go up the academic citation league table. But this is a fake legitimacy and is all smoke and mirrors.
The way in which some researchers carefully select papers and censor information is explored by Dr Pamela Ludolph’s contribution to Family Court Review in July 2012 (Vol. 50, Issue 3, p. 486 – 495), one year after the ‘Special Issue’ edited by McIntosh (pub’d July 2011). Appendix 2 (below) give the reader a rare chance to capture the flavour of academia’s rancor caused by McIntosh’s biased self-promotion.
McIntosh is not bashful in taking every opportunity to refer to her own previous works, e.g. McIntosh, 2009, McIntosh & Chisholm, 2008, McIntosh, 2003 etc, etc. If, like Einstein, she could add to the sum of human knowledge every time this would be acceptable. On her website, ‘Family Transitions’ on a page headed “Statement on overnight care of infants in separated families” she adds nothing but cites a further four more of her own papers. The sum total of her self-quoting amounts to a positioning in her mind where:
- “ .. . . enquiries into the efficacy of shared parenting have not had a strong developmental focus, with a dominant “for or against” narrative in the field drawing on politically and/or gender driven research agendas.”
In other words McIntosh is repeatedly asking over the years whether shared parenting a good idea and a good decision for infants and young children when parents separate. What is more than abundantly clear is that McIntosh is not going to change her spots any time soon. As for politically and/or gender driven research agendas, isn’t that a little rich coming from her ?
McIntosh outraged many of the 1,100 delegates when she delivered a speech at the AFCC 49th Annual Conference, held in Chicago (June 9, 2012) . The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) was originally formed in California the 1960’s and has matured passing through many evolutions.
Delegates had not forgotten the 2011 ‘special issue’ and were infuriated because so much of what she said in this speech about other studies and of her allegedly “finding a pattern” was simply not true.
Her completely one-sided presentation against overnighting (see page 6) and mis-use of the editorial freedom Family Court Review’ (FCR) granted her provoked her 2012 defense which lead onto to a further defence in 2014. Without naming her (McIntosh) the AFCC has finally admitted they should not have given her so much control and that they took their eye off the ball and causing unprecedented conflict (see the Salem & Shienvold article).
Her cause was not helped by this total abrogation in her speech of what social scientists are all about:
- “Can science help you predict what [is needed] ? I’m not sure … . To attribute the status of science to a field is to say we have attained a reliable level of disciplined knowledge, founded upon a wide, deep, rigorous and well replicated body of research. Let’s be clear: we do not yet have a science of overnight care. What we have are small and loosely connected pieces of psychological research. Psychological research examines underlying processes that contribute to certain outcomes.”
McIntosh utterly forgets that, yes, social science is designed to predict what is needed. Peter Salem and Arnold T. Shienvold writing about the conference in the professional journal described the flying fur in these terms:
- “The conflict at the Chicago conference was palpable at times (both behind the scenes and subsequently through e-mails and list-servers) exposing divisions within the organisation that were unlike anything we have ever experienced, resembling some of the earlier tussles with victims’ and fathers’ rights advocates . . .”
No prosaic or flowery language could hide from delegates that she was speaking from a minority position and they would have every right to regard it as insulting drivel, if not gauche as she tried to portray the accepted scene in this way:
- “Indeed – controversy about infant overnight care in family law matters has reached another crescendo. Assertions by stakeholders are passionate, and deeply felt, as academics and advocates, parents and professionals joust across a dichomotous divide.”
As recently as 2011 and 2012 (see above) McIntosh tried to legitimise her research findings by citing John Bowlby’s and Mary Ainsworth’s posture on ‘attachment’ theory. While their work is still acknowledged as a step forward in its time, circa 1950, it is by now seen by all thinkers as but the first among many steps towards a greater understanding.
McIntosh must know this for why else would she try to justify herself against a mountain of criticism by writing in the July 2011 issue of ‘Family Court Review’:
- “Anyone in the divorce field wanting to understand what attachment is about, according to the Bowlby/Ainsworth attachment paradigm, can now find it in that issue of Family Court Review (FCR).” 
Surely every reader of the ‘Family Court Review’ will be more than a little acquainted with the dated Bowlby / Ainsworth attachment paradigm (many will even have read, for example, Rutter’s update and re-interpretation) ?
That ‘Family Court Review’special issue of July 2011 attracted considerable controversy within the profession but in the subsequent edition McIntosh was unrepentant and sought to justify herself stance.
- “The value of this Special Issue will continue to lie in its generation of renewed interest and thoughtful debate about the place of the Bowlby/Ainsworth attachment tradition in family law matters.”
Of particular concern to some AFCC members was that in 2011 McIntosh came in for considerable criticism not because of the people she included and interviewed but who she omitted, yet the AFCC then asked her to give a keynote speech at the AFCC conference in 2012 (an old girls network ?). The AFCC was criticised for allowing one side of a controversial issue to be represented in the FCR without counterpoint in the same issue. Also of concern to some AFCC members were several articles and presentations by ‘attachment theorists’ that suggested a more ‘traditional’ approach to parenting time, including restricting overnights with the non-residential parent for children through age three (what she refers to as the ‘Bowlby tradition’).
If McIntosh does believe that “children benefit from having both parents involved in their lives” albeit with multiple and heavy reservations, and if she also says and truly believes that:
- “. . . but the problem for those involved in family law is to help the parties work out what is best for the children in each particular case.”
Then surely the first step to remedying those problems is to stop what we know fails and is worthless, i.e. mother sole custody – aka traditional attachment theory ? She should stop interfering and do as says, namely, let the family law help the parties agree what is best for the children.
Some recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), for 2008 – two years after legislative changes – indicate that “shared care”, i.e. where over 35% of the child’s time was spent with the father, was amounted to only 7% of children.
Other statistics, from the Family Court of Australia (2009) and for the 2007 – 2008 financial year, indicate that “shared care” is more often attempted by those attending court for custody matters than is true for the divorcing population as a whole, with about 30% of recent Family Court cases resulting in equal or near equal shared parenting – presumably for fathers who attended. In this sub-set of cases, Australian fathers were granted primary care awarded in about 20% of cases with 50% of primary care to mother (N = 4,167 cases) – the balance being split in various way including shared parenting (this is in line with the figures i.e. 30% – 45% achieved in the 1980s in Britain for joint custody prior to it being smashed in 1991 when the 1989 Act became effective. Comparison figures for the 1980s can be found at Table 6 http://lawcommission.wordpress.com/1986/10/01/00001/).
- Had McIntosh said that she accepted that ‘frequent’ interactions and exchanges between parents and grandparents was normal, but that up-front said she was looking a microcosm of dysfunctional families then she could have avoided all the ignominy and pariah status, and her reputation would not have been shredded.
- Had McIntosh said from the outset that, “Look here, I’m going to look at a known minority subset of high conflict dysfunctional families who do not reflect the majority of parents and then draw my conclusions”, no one would have had a beef with her. But she did not do that.
- Had McIntosh adopted the common standard meaning of ‘frequent’ rather than her own an idiosyncratic view of it being only once to twice a month, no one would have laughed out loud the way they have.
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Cited reports used by Associate Professor Helen Rhoades, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne Australia, and quoted in the Norgrove Final Report, Nov 2011 (p. 215).
- Chisholm, R., Family Courts Violence Review (November 2009).
- Family Law Council, Improving responses to family violence in the family law system: An advice on the intersection of family violence and family law issues (December 2009).
- Kaspiew, R., Gray, M., Weston, R., Moloney, L., Hand, K. and Qu, L., E valuation of the 2006 family law reforms (Australian Institute of Family Studies: December 2009).
- McIntosh, J., Smyth, B., Kelaher, M., Wells, Y. and Long, C., Post-separation parenting arrangements and developmental outcomes for infants and children: Collected reports (May 2010).
- Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW, Shared Care Parenting Arrangements since the 2006 Family Law Reforms (May 2010).
McIntosh’s induced rancor
An interpretation of Dr Pamela Ludolph’s article (July 2012)
In an article entitled “The Special Issue on Attachment: Overreaching Theory and Data”, Dr Pamela Ludolph is unusually forthright in her condemnation of McIntosh, stating at one point:
- “Thus, it is of particular concern if the summary is incomplete or inaccurate.”
Michael Lamb also weighs in with the observation that: “The Family Court Review Special Issue edited by McIntosh provided a misleadingly narrow view of attachment theory and of previous attempts to explore the implications of that theory and related research for family court professionals.”
Ludolph shows how McIntosh selected the group for her edition of the journal – apparently they were acknowledged experts “ . .. who had published original attachment research” [but] “in the Bowlby/Ainsworth tradition” and had “published in high-ranking international journals.”
The field was further reduced by the criteria that candidate for inclusion had to have had “exposure to divorce-related issues, but for whom divorce was not their chief line of publication” (McIntosh, 2011, p. 421). So the efficacy of ‘sleepovers’ (which was the issue) and which is divorce related in many instances was more or less invalidated from the beginning.
The group selected, as Dr Pamela Ludolph readily accepts, was, nonetheless, distinguished and more than met the McIntosh’s criteria but one is struck by the absence of ‘the greats’, e.g. Michael Lamb, or Ross Thompson, who despite their international reputations, having published ‘attachment’ research in excellent journals since the 1970s, were not included.
Other prolific and well respected researchers of ‘infant attachment’ include Sir Michael Rutter, Marinus van IJzendoorn, and Mary Dozier (the latter having extensively studied on the ways that foster children meet the challenges of forming attachments after lives of loss and adversity – certainly an area with conceptual ties to divorce).
Curiously, especially after all the kafuffle of McIntosh’s subsequent self-defense strategy, is the total omission (or mention) of scholars who have contributed work on infants and very young children of divorce – the precise area where McIntosh claims to have a unique supremacy (though these respected scholars do not regard themselves as primarily attachment theorists).
Their omission from the panel of interviewees might be understandable, in that attachment was the focus of the Special Issue; but their omission from the issue’s Reference list is inexcusable.
In the last decade or two, some authors, e.g. Marsha Pruett, Joan Kelly, have been undeniably persuasive among social scientists and in influencing family courts – something McIntosh says she did not have as her objective.
One can imagine McIntosh arguing that Pruett and or Kelly’s work was on young children and divorce and that they were not included because they had written only a few papers on infants and overnight parenting time (e.g. Pruett, Ebling, & Insabella, 2004).
However, after the criticism McIntosh experienced and possibly fearing being ostracisedshe was stung into action which took the form of co-authoring, in 2014, a paper with the said Pruett and Kelly (see “Parental separation and overnight care of young children, Part I: Consensus through Theoretical and Empirical Integration”, 2014. Pruett, McIntosh, Kelly).
This development could be a). a callous redemption ploy on her part to be re-assimilated into the fraternity or b). a complete loss of perspective by both Pruett and or Kelly’s in being associated with a renegade that had the capability of wrecking their careers (maybe common sense was overwhelmed by the imperative to preserve the ‘sisterhood’, who can possibly know ?).
But regardless of her motive the joint paper’s aim and content are clear – influencing shared parenting legislation.
- “Presumptions are being proposed in various states, provinces, and countries for both legal (decision making) and physical (parenting time) care of children, yet the merits of such presumptions remain unclear, especially for families with very young children.”
Dr Pamela Ludolph’s lengthy article goes into several other aspects and sometimes in depth. Her article is well worth reading in full and below is a quotation that gives an example of her censure:
- “There is also the matter of the kind of questions chosen for interviewees who, though they were a conceptually narrow group, represented a treasure trove of knowledge that could have been mined. Apt questions were often asked, of course, but again, it is the omissions that are of concern.
- For the most part, the interviewees were not asked about the nature of their research and clinical experience with divorce, questions that would have grounded the naïve reader in the context within which the scholar answered, and helped the reader weigh the sufficiency of the response.
- Controversial or difficult questions were largely avoided. An instance here is the questioning of Solomon and George about their research on overnight care. Their studies (Solomon and George, 1999a; 1999b) have proved beyond controversial in the divorce literature, given the authors’ acknowledgment of methodological difficulties in their work, and the fact that there are but a handful of studies of overnight care in the literature altogether.
- In the Special Issue, Solomon was simply asked if she was “comfortable” with her conclusions that overnights with fathers were stressful to the mother-child relationship, to which she responded, “I am” (George, Solomon, & McIntosh, p. 522). The reader is not well-served, and even a little frustrated, when no follow-up question is posed.”
The unbridled arrogance of a junior academic is revealed in her reply aimed at both Lamb and Ludolph when she dismisses their disapproval of her work in these Mandy Rice-Davis terms:
- “Given the stated topic of the Special Issue, it follows that much of the Lamb and Ludolph criticism about omission of research on other factors that influence child outcomes is irrelevant to the clearly defined focus of this Issue. Their disappointment seems to have arisen, in part, from their own generic use of the concept of attachment, referring broadly to parent–child relationships, rather than to the specific mechanisms of attachment-based interaction.” – Reviewing The Opportunities: Guest Editor’s Reply to Comments, by Jennifer McIntosh.
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 ‘Supplement to Working Paper No. 96’, by J. A. Priest and J. C. Whybrow. http://lawcommission.wordpress.com/1986/10/01/00001/
 Wolfson Study 1975 & 1985 Table 6 http://lawcommission.wordpress.com/1986/10/01/00001/
 In economic studies this caveat used to be termed “All things being equal”
 Regents Park conference 2001
 This is defined as enduring affectional ties between one person and another across time and space. Bowlby’s paradigm was that this first relationship serves as a foundation and template for all subsequent attachment bonds.
 Courts have this power since parents now only have ‘parental responsibility’ which, for all the literature, remains vague and easily overridden.
 Followed by “Before the Best Interests of the Child” (1979), and “In the Best Interests of the Child (1986).
 ‘Reviewing the Opportunities: Guest Editor’s Reply to Comments’ by Jennifer E. McIntosh. Family Court Review (FCR) July 2011 Special Issue: Attachment Theory, Separation and Divorce: Forging Coherent Understandings for Family Law.