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dc.contributor.advisorTaylor, Nicola
dc.contributor.advisorHenaghan, Mark
dc.contributor.authorGollop, Megan Marjorie
dc.identifier.citationGollop, M. M. (2016). Moving on? Parents’ Perspectives on the Impact of Post-Separation Relocation Disputes (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractRelocation disputes are widely regarded as one of the most challenging issues in family law. They occur when, following parental separation, the parent with the day-to-day care of the child/ren (usually the mother) wishes to move away and take her child/ren with her and the other parent opposes this, usually because the move would impact on their contact with their child/ren. Internationally, the family justice sector is considering how best to deal with the complexities inherent in post-separation relocation disputes and has been seeking research evidence to help inform this debate. This thesis reports on a subset of New Zealand data from one of the few qualitative studies worldwide to examine the issue from the perspectives of family members with first-hand experience of post-separation relocation. Sixty-seven parents from 60 families (28 fathers and 39 mothers) participated. The majority (84%) had had some involvement with the Family Court and two-thirds had had their dispute resolved by judicial determination. The sample comprised parents who wanted to relocate (52%) and potential or actual left-behind parents (48%), of whom 46% were successful in relocating or opposing a relocation and 54% were unsuccessful. The parents were interviewed twice over a 12–18 month period, between 2007–2009, about their experience of resolving the dispute and its aftermath to determine the impact on their family and to identify factors that influenced this. The research was conducted within an interpretivist/constructivist paradigm, employing two qualitative approaches, hermeneutic phenomenology and qualitative description. A conceptual framework drawing on Family Systems Theory (Bowen, 1978), a model of family stress – the Double ABCX Model of Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin & Patterson, 1983a, 1983b), and the concept of maternal gatekeeping, underpinned the thesis and was used to report and discuss the findings. The study revealed the diverse and complex nature of relocation disputes and the ongoing transition and mobility within families after parental separation. Parents reported different experiences, outcomes and perspectives depending on whether they were seeking to relocate or opposing their ex-partner’s move and whether these efforts were successful or unsuccessful. The relocation dispute had a significant impact on the majority of the parents in both positive and negative ways. The parents reported more stressors than resources and the balance and timing of these varied. Those women who wished to move reported far more stressors in the post-separation, pre-relocation period than the parents who opposed the relocation. While moving resolved many of the stressors for these women, those parents who were unable to move, or opposed a move, reported more stressors after the dispute was resolved. The dispute resolution period was stressful for the majority of the participants due to interparental conflict, Family Court and legal processes, and the legal fees they incurred. For many parents, the relocation dispute resulted in a depletion of resources: most commonly financial and psychological resources. How parents perceived the relocation dispute and its outcome was a key factor in how they adjusted to it. When the relocation proceeded, contact invariably decreased and parental attitudes and behaviours were critical to whether the relationship between the left-behind parent and his or her child/ren was maintained. The factors that had the most impact on post-relocation outcomes included financial issues, Family Court/legal involvement, interparental dynamics, and parental autonomy. Resolving relocation disputes through legal means often created stressors, depleted the resources of parents, and created or exacerbated interparental conflict. The implications of the study relate to acknowledging, and ameliorating, the potentially detrimental impact of the legal/judicial resolution of relocation disputes. A tailored approach is advocated, one that focuses efforts on identifying and empowering those parents who, given adequate support, guidance and information, could resolve relocation disputes themselves or via Family Dispute Resolution services, reserving legal and Court-based interventions for more complex or entrenched cases. Recommendations are made to better assist parents to resolve disputes with or without recourse to the family justice sector, including relocation-specialised mediation and the production of information and education resources.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectparental separation
dc.titleMoving on? Parents' Perspectives on the Impact of Post-Separation Relocation Disputes
dc.language.rfc3066en's Issues Centre of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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