Spain shows how Equal Parenting Laws leads to:
- better outcomes for children
- a quadrupling of equal care to 40%!
- a huge (almost 50%) reduction in domestic abuse!!
We wanted to share the published research on impressive results being reported from Spain. The changes made in parts of the country demand widespread attention. There is already much research to show the benefits of shared care - the more equal that is, the better the wellbeing of children, but the experience of Spain points to this also substantially reducing domestic abuse - it shows that a shift in mind-set as to how to safeguard children and parents alike can achieve stunning results quickly. If these issues affect you, please bring this research to the attention of your MP along with your experience. Feel free to share with us any response you receive at email@example.com.
The findings being reported are:
- A dramatic increase in the EPT regions of equal parenting – from 10.3% to 40.0% is six years!
- Much improved relationships between children and ‘non-resident’ parents.
- A decrease in contentious divorces/separations – similar to mediation, as the changes created the conditions of a negotiation process to arise.
- An increase in the employment of mothers relative to fathers.
- A significant decrease in risky behaviour, especially boys.
- A decrease in intimate partner violence in these regions – almost 50% on average and as much as 69% for psychological control. The biggest effect on those where the mother was more likely to seek sole custody before the policy change – avoiding threats of violence is incentivised as this would lead to a loss of their children.
- Incentives for fathers to invest time with their children, anticipating that they will be able to reap the rewards of that investment in the event of a divorce/separation.
- A significant reduction in female homicides.
It is suggested that key drivers of these changes are an increase in bargaining power of fathers, eliminating the veto power of mothers and increasing incentives to reach agreements. The researchers also suggest that domestic violence may be significantly used to prevent divorce/separation when fathers fear the loss of their children under the regime where maternal ‘custody’ has been the norm. Whilst there was a decrease in total contentious separations, the researchers also comment on an increase in the proportion of cases that involve Domestic Abuse allegations requiring investigation. However, findings of such abuse went down at the same time. It appears that such allegations, unlike in England and Wales, are looked into fast and if found to be false or irrelevant, then Equal Parenting Time arrangements are then implemented.
The take from the Spanish research is that their approach has led to a major ‘win-win-win’:
- Far more children enjoying beneficial relationships with both parents after family separation, with improved health outcomes (no doubt with grandparents and extended family too, with probably economic advantages)
- Less family conflict and contentious separations.
- Less domestic abuse.
- Spain has a regional structure of family law. Between 2009 and 2011 five out of 17 of these autonomous regions introduced Equal Parenting Time laws (EPT). These regions represent approximately 38%-40% of the population of Spain.
- The effect was to encourage judges to grant EPT after divorce/separation, even when this was contested, mostly by the mother i.e. parental disagreements were no longer considered sufficient to deny it, other than if there were findings of domestic abuse.
- Because the policy was only implemented in some regions, a unique opportunity arose to carry out research with the remaining regions acting as ‘controls’ to compare against, to factor out other national trends.
- The first study considered the effect on intimate partner violence and the second on family outcomes and risky behaviours of teenagers.
The researchers, Daniel Fernandez-Kranz, Natalia Nollenberger and Jennifer Roff are from:
• IE University/Business School, a private establishment in Segovia/Madrid, Spain
• Queens College City University of New York
• IZA Institute of Labor Economics based in Bonn, German
There are two papers, one dealing with the outcomes of Equal Parenting Laws on shared care and domestic abuse, the other dealing with the risky behaviour of teenagers i.e. the wellbeing of children affected. You can download the full research papers and share details to them using the links below.
Bargaining under Threats: The Effect of Joint Custody Laws on Intimate Partner Violence | IZA - Institute of Labor Economics
(PDF) The impact of equal parenting time laws on family outcomes and risky behavior by teenagers: Evidence from Spain
Please share the link to this page with your Member of Parliament, social media, etc. You can find contact details for your MP here.
Ask them to discuss this with the Minister for Justice, Home Secretary and Ministers for Education and health help get a change in mind-set - one with the potential to improve children's wellbeing, reduce conflict and abuse whilst saving the taxpayer money.
25th October 2022
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