Shared Parenting after Separation and Divorce in New Zealand
Shared parenting after separation or divorce is an intricate, fluid process in which gender, power and ideology are implicated. The dominant focus of the literature is on sharply polarised assessments of the value of joint custody or shared parenting, and on the elaboration of the individual moral qualities ideally required by each parent which will help ensure the arrangement's success or failure. This thesis, however, addresses the systemic (individual and social) isssues, and the processes of family life which facilitate or complicate the arrangement. The conclusions indicate that it it is inappropriate to view shared parenting as that form of custody which necessarily safeguards the child's best interests. Rather, it should be viewed as one among several possible modes of custody; and that the particular outcome for any family of a choice of shared parenting after separation depends largely on the ability of those parents to manage their relationship, in which systemic, as well as personal factors are significant. The value of detailed qualitative research as a means to explore and understand areas of family life and relationships is demonstrated, in particular because of its power to reveal the complexity of family process. The crucial material evidence is the transcription of the unstructured, intensive, longitudinal interviews which generates texts suitable for a close textual reading or deconstructive analysis. Such an analysis opens for inspection the way that experience and the respondents' and researcher's textual production is constructed from and by gender, power, ideology, ambivalence, and process. It highlights the way in which elements of experience are often divided from each other and held separate as a consequence of the research act" and their interrelatedness obscured and destroyed. The use of deconstructive qualitative analysis has facilitated a further redefinition of the researcher/respondent relationship. It has emphasised the importance of creating typologies which, within a specific category, can encompass a diversity of experiences and positions. It has challenged the usual mode of sociological writing in which only the authorial voice is present, and has indicated the significance of allowing a range of voices to enter the text, thus emphasising the uncentredness of the social world.