Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies
This qualitative study explores the views that low-income fathers and fatherhood service providers have of the child support system and how these perceptions shape the provision of and men's engagement in fatherhood services. Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with 36 fathers, and telephone interviews with 19 fatherhood service providers. Four themes emerged about perceptions of the child support system: imposing unrealistic financial demands, criminalizing low-income men, discounting paternal viewpoints, and evidencing responsible parenting. A further four themes were concerned with the relationship between the child support system and fatherhood programs: hindering wider service utilization, encouraging engagement, educating and advocating, and reframing child support. Overall the findings suggest that though child support obligations can place a substantial financial and psychological burden on low-income men, fatherhood programs have a valuable role to play in supporting noncustodial fathers in paying child support as one part of their wider paternal role. (Author abstract)
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