Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey Results Revealed
Over 1,000 separated parents document their positives and challenges
(Dublin, Monday 30th January 2017) Today One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – publishes the results of its Shared Parenting Survey and accompanying policy recommendations at a launch in Dublin’s Mansion House with speakers including Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Child Law Expert; Josepha Madigan TD and Family Law Solicitor; Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, Solicitor and mediator; and Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO. One Family has 45 years experience of working with, and representing, one-parent families and those who share parenting, and devised and conducted the survey in response to a damaging lack of awareness and services experienced by these families.
The survey response was overwhelming with 1,014 women and men who share, or have attempted to share, parenting of their children after separation documenting their sometimes harrowing, yet often positive, personal experiences. The data, gathered in July and August last year, will finally give a voice to these parents and their children, and can inform appropriate policies and services in the future.
Key findings include:
- The majority of respondents whose child does not live with them most of time, spend time with their child on a weekly basis.
- While almost 27% of respondents arranged this time amicably between them, for almost 51% it was agreed with difficulty, through mediation or court ordered.
- 62% of respondents whose child lives with them most or all of the time stated that their child’s other parent contributes financially to their child’s costs; 38% stated that the other parent does not contribute financially.
- Over 50% of respondents stated that they do not make decicions jointly on issues that impact on their child(ren).
- Over 34% of respondents have attended mediation.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “Our survey highlights the positives and the challenges, and the diversity and range, of shared parenting relationships in Ireland today. It finds that parents overwhelmingly agree that their children must be their central focus, but that conflict between them often impedes this. What helped some was a commitment to the mediation process, where it was available and appropriate.” Karen continues: “Maintenance, accommodation and finances are cited many times as huge obstacles to be overcome, as were domestic violence and the family law courts system.”
Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Child Law Expert comments: “We must ensure that we hear the voices of children appropriately in family law cases as provided for in the Children’s Referendum. This will require investment in the necessary infrastructure to make sure that children who live in shared parenting families have the best possible arrangements in place.”
Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee, comments: “Given that the Children & Family Relationships Act 2015 is now in place, bringing modernity to legislation in relation to families, we now need the infrastructure of courts to keep pace. According to One Family’s findings, over 50% of respondents stated that they believed court services needed to be improved and that family supports such as parenting programmes, counselling and mediation would assist them in sharing parenting. We badly need a court welfare system and services available to family court users to improve outcomes for parents and children, improve efficiencies in the court system and reduce repeated court visits. The new family law facility planned for Hammond Lane in Dublin must provide these support services and all stakeholders in the family law system now need to work together to ensure that the best family law system is put in place. One Family has started the dialogue and we all need to plan a better way to solve family law problems.”
Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Our recommendations stress the urgent need for cohesive and consolidated policy and practice changes across Government Departments that will result in a reduction of child poverty in Ireland. Evidence shows that separation, shared parenting and parenting alone are associated with less income for children, yet subsequent budgets have targeted women and men in these parenting situations, with negative outcomes for children. It is time for policies and services to catch up with the realities for families in Ireland today.”
One Family’s National Shared Parenting Survey: Results & Recommendations report is available to read/download online on www.onefamily.ie and on this link:
One Family extends its sincere gratitude to each of the 1,014 parents who responded to this survey. This report draws directly from their survey responses and directly quotes many of their comments. Their honesty and openness will help to make Ireland a better place to share parenting in the future.
Notes for Editors
- 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family (Census 2011)
- Almost 1 in 5 children (18.3%) live in a one-parent family (Census 2011)
- There are over 215,000 one-parent families in Ireland today – 25.8% of all families with children (Census 2011)
- 5% of one-parent families are headed by a father (Census 2011)
- Family Relationships and Family Well-Being: A Study of the Families of Nine Year-Olds in Ireland by Tony Fahey, Patricia Keilthy and Ela Polek (2012): Shared Parenting in Lone Parent and Step Families (pg. 24) contains information on shared parenting in Ireland and can be read on www.onefamily.ie/Policy/Campaigns
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Parents who are separated and sharing parenting.
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511