Research studies show that after their parents' relationship ends, one in ten children in Australia do not get to see their fathers for more than a year.
This situation exists in spite of the fact John Howard's government had emphasized greater shared parental responsibility. But this had caused confusion, as some have interpreted it to also mean shared time.
Fathers with children up to the age of two and older teenagers had a higher rate of not seeing their children - 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively - while the rate dropped to 5 per cent for fathers with children aged five to 11. Children aged five to 11 were more likely to be in shared care, with a quarter living in that arrangement. But only 8 per cent of preschool aged children had a shared care arrangement with each parent.
University of Sydney professor of law and family law expert Patrick Parkinson said the main reasons behind fathers not seeing their children at all, were distance and a high level of conflict between the parents, where the mother was strongly objected to the father having contact. Some of these fathers gave up ''not because they don't love their kids, it's just too hard''.
''The best outcome for preschoolers is really to see the other parent frequently but not to have extended absences from the primary carer,'' Parkinson said.
Right across the world families are facing similar issues in single-parent families with the added burden of failed financial commitments.
In a study, funded by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, carried out in Dublin, it was revealed that new forms of shared care are emerging among separated couples. Although children stayed with their mothers with fathers having more regular contact with their children, child maintenance payments could be at default which made children of low-income mothers face poverty.
Irish family law courts promote a child's right to have contact with both parents and are 'upholding the rights of fathers to have contact with their children' which should help in straightening irregularities in monetary payments.