International Conference on Shared Parenting


We have presented the MobileKids project at the 4th International Conference on Shared Parenting entitled “Shared Parenting, Social Justice and Children’s Rights”. This was organized by the International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, on November 22-23th, 2018.

Maryse Baar and Bérengère Nobels have presented some preliminary results from their fieldwork about the “multilocal” way of life of children who live sometimes at dad’s, sometimes at mom’s. It was also an opportunity to explain and show to the other members of the assembly, the different activities with the children they met.

Laura Merla and Jonathan Dedonder also had the opportunity to present the results of the LadS survey, targeting mainly those about the quality of parent-child relationships in separated families in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

To learn more about that, click below to read the 2 abstracts and browse through the following articles.

Bérengère Nobels – Maryse Baar



Since the 1960s, the definition of the family has changed greatly. From the nuclear family, immobile and sedentary, associated with a single place of residence, we move on to a wider and more mobile family associated with different places of residence (Widmer and al., 2008). In this context, new forms of “doing family” (Morgan, 2005) are emerging.

In this paper, we will present the preliminary results of our ongoing research ERC Starting Grant project “MobileKids: children in multi-local, post-separation families”. This project aims to grasp the standpoint of children living under equal shared parenting agreements by considering them as active social actors (James and Prout, 1997; Gullov and al., 2015). The fieldwork is taking place in Belgium, France and Italy with children aged between 10 to 16. We develop a set of participatory and visual methods, as the Socio-Spatial Network Game (Schier, 2015), that will allow us to explore their everyday life inbetween two households.

We will more specifically focus on one central dimension of our project : how these children define or construct a sense of “home” in a context of circular mobility ? How these children, for whom their different living spaces are fragmented and multiplied, establish potentially links as well as discontinuities between them, what represent here, there and the in- between for them, how an “archipélisation” of these different life spaces is created (Duchêne-Lacroix, 2010). We will highlight different strategies, tactics and daily practices that children would develop to deal with these absences and presences and to establish links as well as ruptures inside these spaces (Schier and al., 2015; Winther, 2015). We will address various daily practices understood as tactics expressed through materiality (for example, by leaving a spatial mark in each house), communication (for example, by maintaining contacts – or not – when the child lives in the other house), attitude (for example, by acting differently in co- presence of his/her two parents) and representation (for example, by considering her or himself as the central link in the chain that connects the whole) to demonstrate how children transform their various “life spaces” into a single “lived space”. Their various “life spaces” are embedded in intimate networks that form a coherent whole that combines spatial representations and frames (di Meo, 2012).

Beside our empirical and theorical fieldwork results, we also want to discuss our research methodology and share our reflexions about the recruitment‘s process.

Laura Merla – Sarah Murru – Jonathan Dedonder



This paper is based on the Leuven/Louvain Adolescents Survey (LAdS), a survey conducted in 2017-2018 in Belgian secondary schools by researchers and master students from the KULeuven and the UCLouvain, and which aims at mapping the diversity of family arrangements and their influence on the beliefs, attitudes and practices of adolescents. The part of this survey conducted amongst children in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation, also locates itself within the context of MobileKids, a 5-years ERC Starting Grant project that seeks to understand how Belgian, French and Italian teenagers living in egalitarian shared custody arrangements accommodate to their multi-local lives.

For the purpose of this paper, we will thus focus on the Belgian case, and more specifically on the Brussels-Wallonia Federation. Belgium is a quite interesting country with regards to shared custody arrangements, as it adopted a law in 2006 that sets egalitarian shared custody as the custody arrangement that must be considered in the first place in case of parental separation. According to the 2017 Family Barometer of the Belgian Family League, as of today, more than four out of ten parents in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation experience a divorce or separation, and one out of three separated couples equally share custody of their children.

The main aim of this paper is to offer a descriptive picture of the characteristics of post- divorce/separation family life, from the point of view of children. The preliminary findings that will be further explored in the paper concern a database of around 1500 children (56.5% of girls – 43.5% of boys) aged from 11 to 22 years old (mean age: 14.9) – one third of these children have divorced/separated parents, amongst which 40% can be identified as living in shared custody arrangements. A majority of children (59%) report having been consulted about their custody arrangement and more than 80% of these were satisfied about it. Among other elements, our data reveals that shared custody lead to a better relation with the father (than in sole custody configurations).

In this paper we will further explore the material, spatio-temporal and relational features of post-divorce child custody arrangements, with a specific emphasis on shared custody. Key aspects will include the socio-demographic profile of children in various custody arrangements, the characteristics of their custody arrangements (timing, spatial organization) and children’s level of satisfaction with these arrangements, the type and level of contact that children maintain with their parents across households via the uses of ICTs, the quality of relationships with parents and their new partners, and the relation between these various elements and the pre- and post-separation level of conflict between parents.