Card image cap
Card image cap

The experience of separated fathers having difficulty accessing their child

Jean-Martin Deslauriers, Diane Dubeau

Research Framework: Recognizing the increased involvement of fathers in the lives of their children, the scholarly community agrees that fathers should continue to play an important parental role following a separation. In theory, mothers and fathers are equal before the law when it comes to parental rights. However, there are differences in the sharing of custody between mothers and fathers.

Objectives: This research aims to identify the factors that contribute to decreasing or breaking fathers’ access to their child following their marital separation.

Methodology: This article reports on the results of a qualitative study with 14 fathers and identifies some of the obstacles they experience as they attempt to maintain their parental involvement after a separation.The research data are drawn from semi-directed interviews with fourteen separated fathers with difficulties in accessing their child. Interviews addressed their life situation in order to identify the factors and dynamics that explain the situation from their point of view.

Results: The findings point to several factors at the onto-, micro-, meso- and macro-systemic levels that, when taken together, result in a weakening of the relationship between fathers and children.

Conclusions : Many have assumed that separated fathers’ decreased involvement in their children’s lives can be attributed to a lack of parental engagement. Yet what this assumption ignores is the fact that some fathers who wish to maintain their parental involvement face difficulties accessing their children. Several factors at different levels of ecosystems that accumulate, thus weakening the relationship with the child.

Contribution : This research offers a multifactorial perspective to identify the complexity of this phenomenon and the processes by which it is constructed. This study documents an unknown phenomenon that of fathers who wish to cultivate these links but who face difficulties of access to their child.