Data collected in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies of divorcing families were analyzed to provide an empirical basis for understanding the dynamics of divorced fathering. The research focused on the difficult circumstances of divorced fathers rather than on their defective characters. Findings revealed that fathers continue to visit their children and pay child support at high levels when they perceive that they retain some degree of paternal authority. The loss of this sense of paternal authority appears to occur, in part, because fathers perceive that the legal system and their divorce settlements were unfair to them. The study also found that the custodial mother, who sometimes sees little value in the father's involvement, limits the father's role within the post-divorce family. These findings formed the theoretical foundation for an intervention developed by the researchers for divorced fathers. DADS FOR LIFE is an 8-week program that is intended to change divorced fathers' attitudes and motivations by teaching them skills to manage conflict with the custodial mother and by giving them parenting tools to use during visitation. The researchers are in the process of a conducting a randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. 56 references, 5 notes, 4 tables. (Author abstract)
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