Factors determining fathers' child custody decisions during divorce

Date

1982

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

This study was designed to explore the decision making process around the issue of child custody for fathers experiencing divorce. The researcher wanted to examine which factors influence whether or not fathers decide to file a child custody suit at the time of their divorce. There is very little information available on the disposition of child custody in divorce cases. The literature available varies from 80% to 90% of the cases ending with the mother being awarded custody in divorce. There is even less information available in the literature concerning the decision making process of fathers in the area of child custody during divorce. Because there was very little literature available in this area, this research project was designed as an exploratory study. The sample for the study was composed of divorced fathers who have children from a previous marriage or marriages (custodial and noncustodial) . The researcher selected the following factors to be studied: (1) fathers' attitudes towards the imporatance of the role of the parents in child development in relation to their decisions regarding child custody, (2) fathers' attitudes towards the parental role prior to their separations in relation to their decisions regarding child custody, (3) factors which determine the divorces in relation to the fathers' decisions regarding child custody, (4) the influence of friends, relatives, and/or business associates in relation to fathers' decisions regarding child custody, (5) the role of attorneys in relation to the fathers' decisions reagrding child custody, (6) fathers' knowledge of child custody laws in relation to their decisions regarding custody, and (7) the influence of marriage counselors and therapists in relation to the fathers' decisions regarding child custody. The data was gathered through the use of closed ended questionnaires and open ended interviews. The questionnaire used to gather demographic information was self administered while the interview was conducted by the researcher. Both instruments were developed by the researcher. The findings of the exploratory study appear to indicate that attorneys have a high degree of influence on divorced fathers' decision' making processes concerning child custody. Fathers' naivity about child custody laws and the divorce courts appears to also influence fathers' decisions about child custody. The study did indicate that the mental health profession played a very small role in the divorced fathers' decision making processes. There did appear to be a high level of negative feelings towards the mental health profession and a low level of involvement with this profession during the divorce. Many felt that their counselors or therapists had failed to keep their marriages together. After the interviewing was completed, the following two assumptions were formulated and analyzed: that fathers going through the process of a divorce and are considering a law suit for child custody are more likely to decide against doing so due to the negative feedback that they receive from their attorneys; and the reason that leads to the divorce and how the divorce in and of itself is handled is not likely to influence fathers' decisions to seek or not seek child custody. The data analysis does not support the assumption that fathers experiencing a divorce and are considering a law suit for child custody are more likley to decide against doing so due to the negative feedback that they receive from their attorneys. The analysis does support the assumption that the reason that leads to the divorce and how the divorce is handled is not likely to influence the fathers' decisions to seek or not seek child custody. In view of the findings of this research, the researcher would encourage additional research be conducted to extensively study the different factors examined in this study which appear to influence fathers' decisions to seek or not seek custody of their children. The two areas strongly suggested for further research in this area are: (1) the influence of attorneys on the fathers' decisions and (2) the impact of the lack of information regarding child custody laws and divorce courts on the fathers' decisions. The researcher also strongly recommends that the mental health profession examines and studied what appears to be a gap between what they have to offer the families experiencing divorce and what these families are receiving.

Description

Keywords

Father and child--United States, Custody of children--United States, Divorce--United States

Citation