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Prof. Parkinson’s cavalry crushes Norgrove’s big guns

May 5, 2013

by Robert Whiston  May 5th 2013

At last an academic voice has joined our contention that the 10% figure is a nonsense. In written evidence to the Children and Families bill committee, Prof. Parkinson (author of Australia shared parenting law reform) poured scorn on the claim in child custody matters that “Only 10% choose to come to court over contact arrangements.” [1]

His position in written evidence to parliament shows why it is wrong and unreliable (

This 10% figure has been cited extensively over the years and by Prof. Liz Trinder (and her inner circle of Jenn McIntosh), Peacey and Hunt (2008) and as far back as Joan Hunt & Ceridwen Roberts (2004).  [2] 

A shortened version of the developments and context of Prof. Parkinson lethal incisions can be found at:

Let it be stated, as briefly as possible, why destroying the 10% myth is such a landmark:-

  • Firstly, the 10% has been used in media broadcasts to belittle the need for custody reform.
  • Secondly, the number has been used since 2004 in a dozen or so academic papers [the McIntosh coterie, for instance] which will now have to be treated as irrelevant and judged of no consequence – yet these defective papers with their corrupting disinformation will continue to be cited by opponents and those new to the subject.
  • Thirdly, although another fathers’ group has stated that “the 10% figure” has been accepted as wrong in a recent Gov’t paper (and they can’t quite recall the exact details and/or URL), it is essential that the source is identified and then one can assess the precise wording. It is quite possible, given Whitehall’s track record of mental arthritis and tendency for insular compartmentalisation, that one part of government might accept the inaccuracy of the figures but every other Dept does not.
  • Fourthly, it shines a light on faulty thinking and the ‘disconnect’ between ideological academics and the hard numbers of real life. Whereas ideologues might have got away with the number (ie 10%) were they to restrict themselves to cohabiting couples, it is clearly untrue and not the case for ex-spouses.
  • Fifthly, this brings us to another child care issue. If the futures of children of divorced spouses are presided over by the courts with attempted guarantees and/or minimum standards imposed – who is there to stop children of separating cohabiting couples from falling between the cracks and having a miserable future because there is no such parallel state intervention or oversight ?
  • Sixthly, the inaccurate, mistaken and erroneous figures and the picture they impart misinformation politicians and spevialist commttees alike. this results in Norgrove Report repeating the same drivel, namely that, ‘90% of separating people resolve parenting arrangements for themselves without litigation.’

The parliamentary Family Justice Review, in its Final Report (2011, p.133), also fell victim to this travesty of the truth and committed itself to erroneously believing that “most separating couples make their own arrangements.”

Parkinson goes further – he shows how the committees were misled and that the study the committee cited never actually supported the 10% figure ! !

He totally condemns the Norgrove Committee by writing in a june 2012 paper that “Surprisingly, almost none of the arguments made by the Norgrove Committee can be supported by the available evidence.”  (see

Parkinson writes in his June 2012 paper that :

  • It will be argued that the Norgrove Committee was right to avoid any legislative presumption that children should spend equal or near equal time with both parents. However, there is an advantage to the inclusion in legislation of principles that can help guide the settlement of cases. There is also benefit in moving away from a court-centric approach to family justice in favour of a community-centric approach to family relationships. Legislation needs to be drafted with that emphasis in mind. Based on international experience, six principles are suggested for inclusion in the Children Act to guide counsellors, mediators, lawyers and other professionals in assisting parents to develop parenting agreements when they do not live together. Judges ought to be required to have regard to these principles, while the ‘welfare checklist’ should remain as it is.



All of the following URLs had identified the same inaccuracies revealed by Prof Parkinson about the Norgrove Report and the much repeated and bogus claim of 10%.


See also:

‘Why McIntosh’s work should be ignored’

David Norgrove: selling out to gossip’


[1] A figure taken from a faulty ONS Omnibus survey which found that around ‘1 in 10’ parents had court orders and another inaccurate ONS survey of 2007 (ref. Parkinson).

[2] ‘Child contact with non-resident parents’

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