Dads need to be heard on co-parenting conflict | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dads need to be heard on co-parenting conflict

Dads in conflict over the care of their children are encouraged to take part in USC research to help create a better understanding of the support they need as parents.

USC PhD researcher Leanne Francia is conducting a study on the conflict experienced by separated parents and found that 95 percent of respondents to her study so far have been female.

“It is great to have such a strong response, but fathers are an equally important part of the co-parenting picture and their experiences could be very different to that of mothers but we won’t know unless they feel comfortable sharing their experiences,” Ms Francia said.

“Separation can be very painful and it can involve feelings of grief, loss, shame and anger, and we are aware that some men may find it difficult talking about their experiences, but we offer a safe and non-judgemental environment to talk.”

The research is supervised by Dr Prudence Millear and Dr Rachael Sharman of the School of Psychology and follows Ms Francia’s 2017 research into the impacts of conflict on parents and children who experience separation and custody negotiations.

Ms Francia said it was important to gather all perspectives to further understand whether Australia’s family court, support and welfare systems were able to support the challenges faced by families, and that the outcomes could inform support services and policymakers.

“Co-parenting of children is on the rise in Australia and we want to know if the appropriate systems are working to support everyone involved, including dads.

“Often these conflicts end up in the court system and require child protection, or community support where the issues are ongoing, so it contributes to a significant burden on society too,” Ms Francia said.

Study participants can be from heterosexual or same-sex couples in married or de facto relationships, have one or more children and have experienced conflict that has continued more than two years post-separation.

Participants will be invited to a private face-to-face interview with all information kept anonymous.

Prospective participants can contact the researcher at

- Janelle Kirkland

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