Studies about the effects of divorce on children have found that children who are separated from their father are more likely than children in two-parent families to have problems in psychosocial development, behavior, school performance, employment, and future interpersonal relationships. Conversely, the research indicates that positive relationships with nonresidential fathers who are actively involved in the lives of their children promote positive adjustment. This chapter suggests that postdivorce child custody agreements should seek to enhance the involvement of the nonresidential parent, rather than restrict contact and place children at risk for the negative effects of father absence. However, limitations should be placed on the amount of contact between the noncustodial parent and the child when there is severe conflict between both parents or when the relationship between the nonresident father and the child is poor. Positive contact between the noncustodial parent and the child should include active participation in decisions about the child's life, rather than visitation only. The chapter also identifies individual differences in postdivorce adjustment and the complex relationship between factors such as the quality of relationships between parents and their children, the amount of conflict, and the family's socioeconomic situation. Numerous references.
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