Separated gay and lesbian parents will be given a chance to share their ‘breaking up’ experiences in a new study looking at same-sex couple separation.

La Trobe University sociologist Luke Gahan told the Star Observer same-sex couples with children face unique challenges compared to their straight counterparts.

“For [same-sex parented] families that broke up before a lot of the changes to the law, access to shared parenting was limited so some of their experiences are quite different,” Gahan said.

“For couples who’ve broken up since the law changes, there’ll still be some complexity in that the law is very much written for opposite-sex couples [and] presumes shared parenting for two parents, whereas same-sex parented families often have more than two.”

The study stems from ongoing La Trobe research, Work, Love, Play, looking at the overall experiences of same-sex parents and their families.Gahan said he’s interested in whether legal or social issues play a role in the pressures felt by same-sex parents.

“Same-sex parents have to always think whether or not they need to out themselves when they enrol their children into schools or go to daycare,” he said.

“It’s a constant thing they’re having to deal with, so this can certainly add stress to a relationship or to the family. We’re interested in seeing how this may affect couples.”

Very little research has been done in the area. Gahan guesses this could be due to campaigns for same-sex marriage rights which focus on happy couples.

“A lot of people who have gone through [separation] have often not really spoken up, probably [because of a broader gay rights push] so it’s important to hear what they’ve gone through and see if we can learn anything from that.”

Researchers are looking for parents from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Participants must have had at least one child while in a same-sex relationship which has now ended.

INFO: To be a part of the study, contact 03 9385 5137 or l.gahan@latrobe.edu.au

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