A total of 82 separated and divorced fathers were interviewed in a study utilizing thematic analysis to examine fathers’ narratives about their divorce experiences, particularly in regard to their relationship with their children, and grounded theory analysis to uncover themes related to fathers’ perceptions of their children’s needs, and parental and social institutional responsibilities to these needs, during the divorce transition. We found that contextual factors, particularly the legal custody determination process, largely determine both the level of paternal involvement and quality of father-child attachment after divorce. A sharp discontinuity between pre- and post-divorce father-child relationships was observed, more marked than in earlier studies. Fathers’ psychological reaction to the actual or threatened loss of the father-child relationship was also more pronounced than previously reported, a consequence of fathers’ increasing levels of involvement with and attachment to their children before divorce. Implications for practice and policy are discussed. (Author abstract)
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