Theses Doctoral

Fathering in Joint Custody Families: A Study of Divorced and Remarried Fathers

Simring, A. Sue Klavans

This research explored the fathering experience of 44 divorced and remarried fathers with legal joint custody and at least one child under the age of 16. The fathers filled out a questionnaire and were interviewed about the frequency of their participation in various child care activities, their satisfaction during their participation in these activities, and their perceived influence on their child's growth and development. Three fathering measures were derived from the questionnaire. The father's perception of the relationship with the mother (coparenting relationship) was correlated with the fathering measures to determine if the amount of interaction between coparents and the amount of support or conflict in their relationship was associated with high or low scores on the fathering measures.

Results indicate that the sample fathers have maintained an active and involved relationship with their children which did not diminish upon remarriage. They are satisfied with the time spent with their child, and feel influential in their child's growth and development.

The quality of the relationship between coparents varied from highly supportive relationships to highly conflictual and antagonistic ones. In general, the amount of support or conflict within the coparental relationship, and the frequency of the coparental interaction, was not associated with any of the indicators of a father's involvement with his child. Fathers were able to sustain an involvement with their children without support from their former wives and within conflictual circumstances.

Joint custody was considered to be the context within which fathers were able to negotiate a positive relationship with their child. Most fathers were strongly in favor of using the legal supports that are part of a joint custody agreement as a means of insuring both parents' attachment to their child after divorce. Joint custody appears to be an appropriate and desirable child care alternative in more kinds of divorced families than is currently accepted or encouraged. However, far more support from the legal and social systems is needed to help fathers continue to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations as parents after separation, divorce and remarriage.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
McGowan, Brenda G.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 28, 2015