Shared Care Challenge
Dear Dr Robertson
You were quoted in the Waikato Times on 3 June 2006 as saying
(i) that for parents effectively to take shared responsibility for children “you need a high degree of co-operation and goodwill between the parents” and
(ii) that “it is probably in the best interests of a child not to have their current arrangements upset”, then making clear that you are referring to arrangements in which the mother has sole custody.
Can you refer me to the research on which you base your claims in (i) and (ii)? My understanding of the research is that shared care arrangements work at least as well for all parties as do other child-care arrangements across various qualities of the separated parent relationship, this holding for all but the most highly-conflicted parents. This means that your claim that shared care requires a “high degree of co-operation and goodwill” is simply incorrect and unsupported by the research. My understanding of the research is that on various measures children have been shown to do better under shared care arrangements than under other arrangements including being mostly cared for by either parent. On the other had there appears to be no finding that children do more poorly under shared care than under alternative arrangements, except one study of questionable merit that suggested babies under 18 months old suffered ill effects from shared care. Given this research picture, it appears that your claim in (ii) above is not accurate nor is it supported by the research.
In the same article you refer to a statistical analysis of 2004 Family Court figures that showed “Seventy-four per cent of women who applied for custody in 2004 got custody and 68 per cent of men who applied got custody”. Can you refer me to that analysis and/or the data used. You go on to say that the claimed 6% differential is “hardly surprising given what we know”. To what knowledge were you referring? You go on to say that the claimed 6% differential is “hardly symptomatic of a bias”, but if there were no bias then surely there would be no differential.
I look forward to the research on which your public statements are based. I remind you that under the NZ Psychological Society Code of Ethics you are required to ensure that your public statements honestly reflect the research, and alternatively that you refrain from activities outside your areas of expertise.