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Relationships Between Fathers And Their Children Upon Separation

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Fathers who involve themselves in their young children’s lives are much more likely to keep in regular contact with their children in the event of a split from their partner than those who do not, so researchers from the Nuffield Foundation have found.

The Nuffield Foundation project looked at why one in five fathers lost touch with their children within two years of a break up. The researchers were keen to establish if dads who were closely involved with their children when they were little were likely to see their children more in the event of a split.  They also considered other factors such as the length of time since separation and the age of the child.

The researchers found that eight out of ten fathers who had separated by the time a child was three had some contact with a child and this figure rose to nine out of ten fathers if the child was older when the parents separated.  As time passed, however, three in ten children had lost contact with their dad by the age of eleven.  If the separation occurred after the child was five, seven out of ten fathers had their child to stay overnight on occasions.

Interestingly the researchers found that being a more involved dad, and by this they meant changing nappies, reading books and playing with their children, before separation didn’t make any difference to contact being maintained but it was linked to more frequent contact and overnight stays.  The younger the child was when the separation occurred and the more time had elapsed since the separation, the greater the chance that there was no contact, regardless of how hands on dad had been in the early years.  They also found that dads were just as likely to lose contact with a boy as a girl, but it seemed that boys had more frequent contact with their dads and stayed overnight more often than did daughters.