Contact fathers’ experience of family life
La Trobe University Press
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
Contact fathers’ experience of family life has lacked attention in the divorce literature although evidence suggests that contact fathers often suffer considerably, post-separation or divorce. This study explored contact fathers’ (N= 48) perspectives of family life. Using a multimethod approach incorporating quantitative and qualitative methodologies, father-child and parental interactions were investigated in relation to family functioning in the contact father-child family. Two key aspects of family functioning identified by the Circumplex Model for Marital and Family Systems (Olsen, 1989), cohesion and adaptability, were assessed in these contact father families. Results showed that the quality of father-child interactions did predict cohesion in the contact father-child family but not adaptability. Quality of parental interaction did not predict cohesion or adaptability. Qualitative data provided insights into the ways in which aspects of cohesion and adaptability influenced contact father-child family experiences. Findings highlighted the importance of identifying attitudes that prevent contact parents from fulfilling their parental roles and the importance of early intervention for working with disrupted families.