Study: Distance has impact on fathers’ contact with children

A study that looked at the involvement a noncustodial father has with his children pointed to one of the biggest factors coming down to how far away he is living from his kids. This distance can be due to the father choosing to live farther or closer, but also if the mother decides to relocate the children.

The study looked at parental involvement of approximately 23,000 people over a 14 year period. In order to determine how often the father saw their children, the mother was the one who reported on a scale of one to eight on their level of contact. The results only included face-to-face contacts, and not emails or telephone calls.

From that date four distinct groups of father involvement over that 14 year period were found:

• Around 38 percent of all fathers spent at least one day a week with their children. In general this group of men was also more likely to also be well-educated and paying child support.

• About 32 percent only saw their children about once a year. It was noted that these father’s also typically had their children outside of wedlock, were young themselves when they had those children and lived more than 100 miles away from their children after first being separated.

The last two groups were those that actually changed patterns throughout the study:

• Close to 23 percent had weekly contact, but then as the years went on started to see their children more sparingly. This group of fathers was also more likely to have moved away from their children, or had their children move away from them at some point after the separation.

• Eight percent started off only seeing their kids a few times a year, but then increased that contact over time to around once a week. This group typically ended up moving closer to their children several years after the initial separation.

In general this study shows a trend between how far away a father lives from his children and his level of contact. What’s important to remember is that father’s have rights, and if a mother is attempting to move children even farther away after a breakup or divorce, it may be possible to legally object to that child relocating.

Source: Huffington Post, “What happens to non-residential fathers’ contact with their children?” Robert Hughes, Jr., 1 March 2011

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