Professor Bruce Smyth

Professor of Family Studies
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Family Law 180113
  • Social Policy 160512
  • Family And Household Studies 160301
  • Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation And Social Impact Assessment 160801
  • Policy And Administration 1605
  • Sociology 1608

Research interests

Post-separation patterns of parenting - particularly shared parenting

High-conflict divorce cases

Child support

Relocation and parenting disputes

Allegations of family violence in family law proceedings

Financial living standards after separation

Spousal support

Binding financial agreements

Mandatory divorce mediation

Digital divorce

Family Life Education

The meaning of 'home' to children and young people after parental separation

Social research methods

Human research ethics and integrity



Bruce was born in London to an English mother and American father (Buffalo, NY). He has been working as a social scientist in family law for the past 25 years. Prior to joining the ANU in March 2007, Bruce worked at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in Melbourne as a Senior Research Fellow. He was a member of the Ministerial Taskforce on Child Support (2004-05), and was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (2012-2016) to investigate the high conflict post-divorce shared-time family.

In June 2018, he received the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award from the American Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (AFCC) in recognition of outstanding research and research achievements in the field of family and divorce. In 2021, Bruce and his colleagues, Moloney, Brady, Harman and Esler, were awarded the Meyer Elkin Essay Award for the best article in Family Court Review: COVID-19 in Australia: Impacts on separated families, family law professionals, and family courts.

Bruce is currently finishing an ARC Discovery Project on the meaning of 'home' for children and young people after parental separation (led by Prof Belinda Fehlberg - UoM; A/Prof Kris Natalier - U of SA; Dr Monica Campo - UoM). He has started work with Prof Jason Payne (UoW),  Dr Geneveive Heard (RA-Vic), Dr Glenn Althor (RA-CR), and Michelle Irving on an evaluation of post-separation of co-parenting smartphone apps. He continues to publish widely in the area of family law, especially on post-separation patterns of parenting.

Bruce is an active member of the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

Researcher's projects

Bruce Smyth, Bryan Rodgers and the research team completed an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Grant in 2012 to examine the impacts of the 2006-2008 child support reforms in Australia.

Bruce recently completed an ARC Future Fellowship studying the high-conflict post-divorce shared-time family. He is currently in the process of writing up that study as a book.

He is currently working on an ARC Discovery Project with Prof Belinda Fehlberg (Melbourne Law School; Lead CI),  A/Prof Kristin Natalier (Flinders University; 2nd CI) , and Dr Monica Campo (Melbourne Law School; Senior Research Fellow) on the meaning of 'home' to children after parental separation.

Current student projects

Giverney Ainscough, Doctoral candidate, Working with disability and illness inclusion policy: Lecturer, student and Inclusion staff perspectives

Tempe Archer, M Phil candidate, The recent parliamentary inquiry into the Australian Child Support Program: A critical review

Past student projects

Nea-Ann Bax, Doctoral candidate, Exploring the relationship between re-partnering, parental involvement, family dynamics, and family wellbeing (awarded in 2017)

Maria Vnuk, Doctoral candidate, Mothers who pay or should pay child support in Australia (awarded in 2018)


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Updated:  23 January 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers