A recent Australian study into the dynamics of couples post-separation has disabused a commonly held misconception that the separation process is always one tainted by animosity, legal proceedings and endless squabble.
The study reveals that separating couples are often quite capable of negotiating the division of property and care of children between themselves, only resorting to the aid of professional services, such as counsellors and lawyers, where physical/emotional abuse was present or the couple’s pool of assets exceeded $140,000.
Unsurprisingly, a substantial number of the participants reported experiencing some form of domestic violence or emotional abuse before, during and post-separation. The number one reported form of abuse was humiliating insults, followed by the circulation of defamatory matter, and the constant surveillance by former partners. Furthermore, it was mothers who reported experiencing a higher degree of violence during the separation process, with fathers (more so than mothers) tending to report no experience of violence at all.
Despite this, a majority of the 9,000 participants indicated that their relationship with their former partner post-separation was largely friendly and cooperative. Of these participants, both fathers and mothers reported achieving a positive outcome when negotiating the care of children and property settlement between themselves.
The findings highlight a correlation between the amount of care-time a parent has with their child and the amount received in the property division. There was a general sentiment amongst the father participants that the division of property was unfair and that the legal system is skewed in the mothers’ favour. There also existed a perception amongst fathers that income-making activities should be given more weight than home-making activities when determining the proportion of assets to be granted to each parent. Almost half of the participants, however, reported reaching a resolution to post-separation issues within the 12 months immediately following their separation. Longer resolution times were present amongst couples with an asset pool above $500,000.
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