Phenomenology as a methodology reveals lived experience (van Manen, 2017); as such, it is an excellent methodology to help us understand the parent perceptions and experiences of child custody decision-making. Qualitative researchers have explored the ways in which lived experience is influenced by issues of culture and gender (Kall & Zeiler, 2014). In this paper, I explain how the key tenets of phenomenology, epoché and reduction, revealed the importance of custody status for participants, and also discuss how differences in gender was rendered invisible in the initial analysis. The flexible nature of phenomenology allowed me to use a critical lens after the initial analysis to consider another understanding of the parent experience, while still revealing lived experience. These new understandings better position us for social justice work.


Phenomenology, Lived Experience, Child Custody Decision-Making, Critical Theories

Author Bio(s)

Beth Archer-Kuhn is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: beth.archerkuhn@ucalgary.ca.


To the women and men who shared their stories so that we might learn from them.

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