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16 Canterbury L. Rev. 302 (2010)
Imposing Gender Neutral Standards on a Gendered World: Parenting Arrangements in Family Law Post-Separation

handle is hein.journals/cblrt16 and id is 310 raw text is: IMPOSING GENDER NEUTRAL STANDARDS ON A
GENDERED WORLD: PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS IN
FAMILY LAW POST-SEPARATION.
JULIA TOLMIE, VIVIENNE ELIZABETH AND NICOLA GAVEY'
1 INTRODUCTION
In intact families it is clear that the responsibility of caring for children
remains a    gendered   activity. Research   from   numerous jurisdictions
demonstrates that women still generally shoulder the lion's share of
responsibility of caring for children, particularly young children. The fact
that women continue to bear this responsibility even when they are in full
time employment suggests that such labour is built into our fundamental
understanding of what it means to be in the role of a mother. In New Zealand
there is no legal insistence that parenting be shared in intact families, and
little by way of social policy to create the conditions that might facilitate such
sharing.
Nonetheless, at the point of separation, and ironically at the point
that the relationship between the parents has broken down, it seems that,
increasingly, we are insisting that parenting, in the sense of doing the labour
of caring for children, be shared - should this be an obligation that fathers
wish to assume at that point. Gender neutrality in the sharing of parenting
responsibilities for children after relationship breakdown has become the
legal and cultural ideal in many jurisdictions in recent times, including,
arguably, New Zealand. In several previous articles1 we have used a study
involving the interview of 21 separated New Zealand mothers to document
a claim that some New Zealand Family Law professionals view lots of father
contact, regardless of the history, quality and circumstances of that contact,
as essential to children's wellbeing and, some even see 50:50 shared day-to-
day care as a desirable norm post-separation.
In this article we use the accounts provided by the women in this study to
explore the consequences of treating parenting at the point of separation as
though it is an egalitarian project between mothers and fathers, when in fact
the practices of mothering and fathering generally involve the inequitable
shouldering of parenting responsibilities both prior to and after separation.
First we look at what the research tells us about parenting patterns in intact
and separated families to substantiate the claim   that parenting practices
Associate Professor Julia 'olmie, Faculty of Law, 'he University ofAuckland; Dr Vivienne
Elizabeth, Department of Sociology, The University ofAuckland; Associate Professor Nicola
Gavey, Department of Psychology, 'The University of Auckland. The authors wish to thank
the generosity of our participants without whom this research would not have been possible.
1   Julia Tolmie, Vivienne Elizabeth and Nicola Gavey Raising Questions about the
Importance of Father Contact Within Current Family Law Practices [2009] NZ Law
Review 659; Julia Tolmie, Vivienne Elizabeth and Nicola Gavey, Is 50:50 Shared Care a
Desirable Norm Following Family Separation' Raising Questions About Current Family
Law Practices in New Zealand (2010) New Zealand Universities Law Review 136.

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