Moral intuitions about fault, parenting, and child custody after divorce

Ashley M. Votruba, Sanford L. Braver, Ira Mark Ellman, William Fabricius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Allocations of child custody postdivorce are currently determined according to the best interest standard; that is, what is best for the child. Decisions about what is best for a child necessarily reflect cultural norms, at least in part. It is therefore useful as well as interesting to ask whether current understandings of the best interest standard align with moral intuitions of lay citizens asked to take the role of judge in hypothetical cases. Do factors such as whether 1 parent had an extramarital affair influence how respondents would award custody? In the current studies, a representative sample of citizens awaiting jury service was first given a neutral scenario portraying an "average" family. Almost 80% favored dividing custodial time equally between the 2 parents, replicating earlier findings. Then, in Study 1, they were given a second, test case, vignette in which either the mother or the father was said to have carried on an extramarital affair that "essentially ruined the marriage." In Study 2, either the mother or the father was said to have sought the divorce, opposed by the other, simply because he or she "grew tired" of the marriage. For both test cases, our respondents awarded the offending parent significantly less parenting time; about half of our respondents in each Study. The findings indicate that many citizens feel both having an affair and growing tired of the marriage is sufficient cause to award decreased parenting time, reasons for which are explored in the discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Child Custody
Intuition
Divorce
Parenting
child custody
intuition
Marriage
divorce
parents
marriage
citizen
Fathers
father
Mothers
Parents
scenario
cause
Surveys and Questionnaires
time

Keywords

  • Child custody
  • Divorce
  • Moral intuition
  • No fault
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

Cite this

Moral intuitions about fault, parenting, and child custody after divorce. / Votruba, Ashley M.; Braver, Sanford L.; Ellman, Ira Mark; Fabricius, William.

In: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2014, p. 251-262.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Votruba, Ashley M. ; Braver, Sanford L. ; Ellman, Ira Mark ; Fabricius, William. / Moral intuitions about fault, parenting, and child custody after divorce. In: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. 2014 ; Vol. 20, No. 3. pp. 251-262.
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