Children and Divorce Investigating Current Legal Practices and their Impact on Family Transitions

  • Heidi Simoni
  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
  • Andrea Büchler


The research project ‘Children and Divorce – Current Legal Practices and their Impact on Family Transitions’ is part of the Swiss National Research Programme ‘Childhood, Youth and Intergenerational Relationships in a Changing Society’ (NRP 52). Its objective is the scientific analyses of the amended Swiss divorce law, in order to get, on the one hand, an estimation of its outcomes on children’s well-being and, on the other, to find out if it takes into account and encourages modern forms of familial allocation of duties and responsibilities in an appropriate manner. The research project is embedded in a societal evaluation process of law amendment, for which the dialogue between science and practice is fundamental.

The project, ‘Children and Divorce’, aims at following a transdisciplinary approach, integrating various disciplinary perspectives and methods. It is managed by a jurist and a psychologist. The research team includes jurists, psychologists and sociologists and is supported by a group of external experts working in the field.

To elaborate the research questions, various mutually complementary qualitative and quantitative methods of empirical social research have been applied. Data was collected synchronically at three levels: (a) analysis of court files and interviews with judges, (b) written interviews with divorced mothers and fathers, (c) in-depth interviews with children, mothers and fathers. The analyses of the data focus on the following main questions:

- The experiences with the revised Swiss divorce law focusing on the well-being of the affected children.

- The decisions taken in divorce proceedings such as the award of custody (sole and joint custody), the settlement of visitation rights and maintenance, the right of the child to be heard, and the representation of the child.

- The everyday life of divorced parents and their children.

- Interrelations between legal context, resources of divorced families and the best interest of the child.

- The participation of children of divorced parents in the reorganisation process of the family. endhyphenlist

As to the inter- and transdisciplinary process, the elaboration of a common theoretical framework and the integration of the results, provide the most interesting and challenging parts. The aim of the following chapter is to focus on these aspects, without going into the results.


Welfare of the child Divorce Family transition Legal practice Social change 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Büchler, A. and Simoni, H.: 2006, July 15, Scheidungskinder zwischen Wohnmüttern und Besuchsvätern. ElterlicheSorge und Kindeswohl – Modell und Alltag (Children of divorced parents between residental mothers and non-residental fathers. Parental responsibility and welfare of the child – models and daily life), Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Nr. 162, S. 65.Google Scholar
  2. Cowan, P.: 1991, Individual and family life transitions: a proposal for a new definition. In: P. Cowan and M. Hetheringthon (eds), Family transitions: a proposal for a new definition, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, pp. 3–30.Google Scholar
  3. Eidg. Departement des Innern (ed.): 2004, Familienbericht 2004: Strukturelle Anforderungen an eine bedürfnisgerechte Familienpolitik, Bern.Google Scholar
  4. Kraemer, H., Measelle, J., Ablow, J., Eessex, M., Boyce, W, and Kupfer, D.: 2003, A new approach to integrating data from multiple informants in psychiatric assessment and research: mixing and matching contexts and perspectives, Am J Psychiatr 160, 1566–1577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. National Research Programme 52: n.d., Retrieved June 11, 2007, from Scholar
  6. Perrig-Chiello, P. and Perren, S.: 2005, Biographical transitions from a midlife perspective, J Adult Dev 12, 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Perrig-Chiello, P.: 2004, Soziale Integration im Spiegelbild lebenszyklischer Übergänge (Social integration as reflected in life-cycle transitions). In: Ch. Suter (ed.), Sozialbericht 2004 (Social Report), Seismo, Zurich, pp. 129–154.Google Scholar
  8. Perrig-Chiello, P. and Arber, W.: 2002, Inter- und Transdisziplinarität – zwischen akademischem Anspruch und gesellschaftlichem Bedürfnis (Inter- and transdisciplinarity – between academic intention and social need), Réalités Sociale, Lausanne.Google Scholar
  9. Perrig-Chiello, P. and Darbellay, F. (eds): 2002, Qu’est-ce que l’interdisciplinarité?, Réalités Sociale, Lausanne.Google Scholar
  10. Schweizerisches Zivilgesetzbuch (Swiss Civil Code, ZGB) of May 1, 2007, Retrieved June 11, 2007, from Scholar
  11. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Retrieved June 11,Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi Simoni
    • 1
  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
  • Andrea Büchler
  1. 1.Institute Marie MeierhoferZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations