Disputes over custody and residency at district courts of Finland 2004–2015

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Title: Disputes over custody and residency at district courts of Finland 2004–2015
Author: Sobolev, Anton
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Helsingfors universitet, Matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202002261406
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Tilastotiede
Abstract: When couples with children split or divorce, they are often unable to come to a mutual agreement concerning their child's place of residency, custody, the child's meetings with the other parent and the frequency of these meetings, or financial aid one parent is obliged to pay the other parent for the child. In many countries, these disagreements quite often lead to long disputes in court. A lot of research has been made (both in Finland and internationally) concerning the court's consideration of disputes about children. This thesis studies the disputes on custody and residency of a child in the district courts of Finland. The objective is to find out which factors play the biggest role in solving these disputes in court. Nine district courts of Finland have kindly provided the documents of the disputes concerning custody and residency of children from the period of 2004 - 2015. Only the cases where a dispute was solely between the parents of a child (no other relatives) and where the final decision was made by court (no agreement between the parties) are taken into analysis. Disputes are divided into two types - the ones where residency of a child was involved in a dispute (residency disputes) and the ones where it was not involved (custody disputes). The winner of a dispute is a dependent variable. A logistic regression model is applied for the custody disputes, and a cumulative logistic regression model is applied for the residency disputes. Due to results of the analysis, mothers win more disputes than fathers, but the difference is statistically significant only for the residency disputes. When only father is of a foreign background, it lowers father's winning chances in a custody dispute, but neither father's nor mother's foreign backgrounds are statistically significant for the residency disputes. A substantiated violence of father towards mother again acts negatively for fathers in custody disputes, and so does a non-substantiated accusation regarding alcohol or drug abuse by father. For the residency disputes, the main factors decreasing fathers' probability to win are mother hiring a legal assistant and father receiving legal aid (which takes place when father is not financially capable of hiring a legal assistant). Established conditions of a child at one of the parents increase the winning chances of that parent, but the effect is higher for fathers. All the accusations (both substantiated and non-substantiated in court) act in favor of fathers; these are substantiated mother's mental disorder, non-substantiated alcohol or drug abuse by mother and non-substantiated accusation regarding father's violence towards mother. At the same time, no variables regarding genders of children disputed about, genders of a judge or of legal assistants are statistically significant in the models. The same concerns the parents' demands in court, as well as the ages of parents (and their difference) and of children involved in disputes. This investigation can be extended by adding the disputes from other years and from other district courts into the analysis.

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