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Most divorced dads want more time with children - Joe Ludwig (CSA survey)

Three-quarters of divorced fathers want to have custody of their children for at least 50 per cent of the time.

The Australian
18 October 2008

Most divorced dads want more time with children
By Patricia Karvelas, Political correspondent

Three-quarters of divorced fathers want to have custody of their children for at least 50 per cent of the time, while as many as 36 per cent wish they could have their children all of the time.

Based on a survey of 300 child-support payers, mostly fathers, and 300 payees, mostly mothers, the research shows that some women also want less time with their children and are willing to share the load.

According to the survey, conducted by the Child Support Agency, 61 per cent of parents (mostly women) receiving money from their former partners said they would ideally like to have their children all of the time.

But significantly, 36 per cent were happy to share their children 50 per cent of the time or more.

This is inconsistent with reality. At the moment, the overall main carer ratio is about 87 per cent women and 13 per cent men. The figures reveal that a lot would be willing to have shared arrangements, but do not currently have them.

Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig said it demonstrated that fathers wanted more to do with their children.

"The striking changes in the roles of men and women in Australian society are being reflected in parenting after separation," Senator Ludwig said. "Most separated dads are working hard to support their kids and the survey shows a large percentage want more to do in their children's lives."

The survey commissioned by the Child Support Agency charts that there were strong, positive changes in how parents viewed their relationship with their former partner, over a six-month period that included the introduction in July of a new system for calculating child support payments.

Under the new system, the greater the proportion of time the paying parent has custody of their child, the less their repayments are.

In August, 43 per cent of parents said they were very likely to deal with the other parent in a businesslike way - up from 26 per cent in February.

"That represents 250,000 mums and dads who now say they've improved the way they deal with each other," Senator Ludwig said.

The survey also shows a dramatic drop in the number of parents saying they were very unlikely to deal in a businesslike way with their former partner. That figure has fallen from 45 per cent to 26 per cent over the same period.

"The new child support system is designed to cement these social trends towards greater shared parental responsibility," the senator said.

"Some fathers are responding to the new child support system, which encourages a greater proportion of shared care."

As the new scheme is bedded down, Senator Ludwig expected these positive social trends to improve further.
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