Children and Divorce Investigating Current Legal Practices and their Impact on Family Transitions
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.
KeywordsWelfare of the child Divorce Family transition Legal practice Social change
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