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Fathers’ Investments of Time and Money across Residential Contexts

Fathers’ roles in family life have changed dramatically over the past fifty years. High and rising divorce rates, the growing proportion of births that occur outside of marriage, and the higher likelihood of children living with their mothers when their parents’ union ends have resulted in a striking decline in the proportion of men living with their own biological children since the mid-1960s. In addition, mothers are increasingly likely to be employed outside the home, while fathers’ roles have expanded from primarily that of the ‘breadwinner’ to include that of caregiver.

In this report, the authors: (1) Describe the prevalence of fathers’ economic capacities and contributions and their level of direct involvement and interaction with children, comparing resident versus non-resident fathers; (2) Evaluate how fathers’ economic capacities and contributions are linked to fathers’ direct involvement for both resident and non-resident fathers; and (3) Analyze whether and how state-level child support effectiveness is associated with non-resident fathers’ total child support payments and their direct involvement with children. They find important differences in how fathering plays out for resident versus non-resident fathers. Resident fathers experience a trade-off between their time in the labor market and their time directly involved with children. In contrast, for non-resident fathers, greater financial capabilities and contributions ‘go together’ with being involved in other ways with their children. Given the low economic resources of many non-resident fathers, this circumstance may create challenges for fathers to remain actively involved in their children’s lives with respect to both money and time.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Custody & Placement, Orders & Payments


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