joint custody, 66 since the parents had reason to believe that the court would likely follow the
presumption even if the parents went to trial.
At the end of the four-year study, most of the parents in joint custody67 arrangements
voluntarily returned to the arrangements that existed for those families prior to the mediation. 68
Typically, this meant that the mother regained sole custody of the child. 69 In fact, at the end of
the four years, only about a quarter of the families in the study remained in a joint custody
arrangement. 70 Therefore, high conflict parents who settled on equal arrangements during
mediation failed to maintain the arrangement less than four years later. 71 It follows, then, that
sole custody arrangements were much more stable in situations where joint custody was
somehow imposed on the parents. 72
1. Shared Characteristics of Groups
In this study, the very limited number of families who were able to maintain a joint
custody arrangement had common characteristics. 73 The children were very young males, whose
parents lived close to each other. 74 The fathers had high academic accomplishments; the mothers
had both higher education and high incomes. 75 Finally, the mother was settled in a romantic
relationship. 76 Compared to the other families in the study, these families were also the least
66 Family Law Act, 1975 (Cth) s 65DAA( 3) (Austl.), available at
67 Post-Separation, supra note 63, at 41 (study specified that as long as both parents maintained at least 35% of the
overnights, they were in a joint custody – or “shared parenting” – arrangement).
68 Id. at 42.
70 Id. at 42 (study specified that as long as both parents maintained at least 35% of the overnights, they were in a
joint custody (or “shared parenting”) arrangement.)
76 Id.; See also Dush, Kotila & Schoppe-Sullivan, supra note 61 (some consistent predictors of successful co-parenting between the studies.).