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Children's experiences of 'home' after parental separation

Date:30 MAY 2018
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Professor of Law
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
This paper, published in Issue 1 of Child and Family Law Quarterly 2018, is part of an ongoing Australian project that seeks to explore the meaning of 'home' for children in separated families. No prior family law research has done so. This is despite the personal and social significance of home, the reality that most Australian children now move to some degree across two households if parents separate, and increasing emphasis in policy, law and professional practice internationally on listening to children regarding their post-separation living arrangements.

Drawing on interviews with 22 children conducted in 2011 as part of a larger qualitative study, the authors find that home – or its emotional absence – was constituted primarily through relationships. Children felt at home when their relationships with others at the house signalled they belonged, or were welcome in that space. There was no apparent connection between how often a child stayed at a house and whether they experienced that house as a home. This preliminary work suggests the value of further research using a larger sample in which 'home' is the focus.

The full version of this paper appears in Issue 1 of Child and Family Law Quarterly 2018.

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