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Otago staff invited to take part in separation research

Monday, 7 August 2017 9:42pm

Nicola,-Mark,-Megan-image
Otago researchers (from left) Associate Professor Nicola Taylor, Dr Megan Gollop and Professor Mark Henaghan are undertaking nationwide research to assess how changes to the family justice system are working.

University staff are being invited to contribute to Otago research into how separated parents make arrangements for the care of their children.

In 2014 significant changes were made to the New Zealand family justice system – placing a much greater emphasis on supporting parents and caregivers to reach their own decisions by using out-of-court services like mediation, rather than the Family Court.

Now a three-year study, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation and being undertaken by Associate Professor Nicola Taylor, Dr Megan Gollop and Dr Margaret Mitchell of the Children’s Issues Centre and Professor Mark Henaghan of the Faculty of Law will assess how well the new system is working.

"By participating in this study Otago staff will contribute to research that that will inform policy and practice in the New Zealand family justice system and help other separated parents and children."

The researchers are surveying separated parents and caregivers from across New Zealand about how they went about making their parenting arrangements, and their experiences of any family justice services they used to do this.

Dr Megan Gollop, one of the study leaders, says the team wants to understand the different pathways that separated families take to make parenting arrangements and how well family justice services are meeting the needs of parents and children.

“It is important that we understand how separated families can best be assisted to make decisions about children’s day-to-day care and contact at an often upsetting and stressful time.”

Dr Gollop says family transitions and parental separation affect many parents and children, including University staff and students.

“By participating in this study Otago staff will contribute to research that that will inform policy and practice in the New Zealand family justice system and help other separated parents and children.”

The study will also be seeking the views and experiences of professionals working in the family justice sector. The results will help to determine whether any improvements are needed to better help separated families make parenting arrangements for children.

How to take part:

Separated parents and caregivers who have made and/or changed parenting arrangements for children since 1 April 2014 are invited to complete an online survey at passnz.co.nz and to participate further in an optional individual interview with the researchers. Ph: 0800-4-PASSNZ/0800-472 776 or University extension 8039.